It’s that time of the year again. You know what I’m talking about. The work parties, the church parties, the neighborhood parties, and of course the family holiday feasts all seem to have one common goal, and that is to make sure that you outgrow those skinny jeans before the ball drops on 2011. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can still have a great time at all the parties, while controlling your waistline at the same time. The operative word is control.
Let’s start with the beverages, specifically eggnog. The fact that the drink contains the word “egg” in its name should be a big heads up. According to fitday.com, one cup of alcoholic eggnog made with two percent milk contains over 190 calories, and more than 73 of those calories are from fat. If you simply must have the eggnog, stick with half a cup and sip it slowly to enjoy every drop.
Limit your alcohol consumption during the holidays. All types of alcohol contain empty calories that provide no nutritional value. If you want to enjoy more of the holiday foods, you must cut back on the holiday alcohol in order to keep your weight under control throughout the season. Try to drink water, soda water, or diet soft drinks, all of which are calorie free. That way you can save your calories for all the yummy snacks and hors d’oeuvres at the annual gatherings.
Let’s talk about those hors d’oeuvres for a moment. You might think that if you have just one of each, that it “doesn’t count,” or won’t really matter. Wrong answer. Every calorie counts. According to discovergoodnutrition.com, most holiday hors d’oeuvres have about one hundred calories each. If the host is serving ten different types, and you only have one of each, that’s a whopping one thousand calories, and that’s not including beverages and of course, the actual meal. My suggestion regarding hors d’oeuvres and snacks at parties is to pick out two that you really want to try, and eat one of each. Then station yourself at the veggie tray, and use only enough dip to add flavor to your veggies. You do not need to submerge each veggie in the dip to enjoy it. And remember, no double dipping.
So far we’ve covered drinks and hors d’oeuvres, but we haven’t talked about the big feast, or feasts, if your family is anything like mine. To keep my holiday meal calories in control, I like to use the “plate method,” which is a diabetic eating plan that I learned in nursing school. One fourth of your plate should contain a low fat, protein rich food like turkey. One half of the plate should contain low fat, high fiber green vegetables and tossed salads. Remember to go easy on the salad dressing. The remaining fourth of the plate is for everything else. I usually take one very small spoonful of everything that I want to taste. Keep these foods contained to one quarter of the plate. No double decking either, and no seconds on any of these dishes. If you must have seconds, go for the meat and low fat vegetables. Eat slowly. Remember that it takes twenty minutes for the brain to receive the signal that the stomach is full. Don’t ignore this signal. When you are full, put down the fork and stop eating.
The last thing to address is the dessert table. Pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, pecan pie, two or three cakes, cookies, puddings and more are loaded on our dessert table every year. Use the same strategy here as I discussed with the hors d’oeuvres. Pick one or two desserts to taste, and then cut yourself a teeny tiny sliver of each. Just enough to taste, maybe one bite each. By this time you should be stuffed, so there is no need to make yourself sick or uncomfortable just to cram in one more bite of pie. Again, stop eating.
Holiday foods are a big part of the season’s festivities, and probably a big tradition with you and yours. You can enjoy all of the holiday parties this season, and with a little self-control you can still fit comfortably into your New Year’s Eve outfit. Just follow the tips above, and use common sense, and you can avoid the holiday weight gain.