Fit Hungry Mama

One mama's journey of finding balance with food, fitness, family, and fun

How to Survive the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

on November 16, 2012

The holiday season is officially here.  By now, the office and school parties have started. In fact, later this morning, I will be attending my son’s pre-K Thanksgiving feast. I have no idea what will be served, but I am prepared for whatever comes my way!

With that said, here are a few of my favorite tips on how to handle all those big social outings and family gatherings you have to attend each holiday season:

  • Increase your physical activity.  If you plan on indulging, move more to increase your overall calorie burn.  Adding an extra day or two of exercise to your current routine or doing an extra 10-20 minutes of cardio per day will increase your metabolic rate.
  • Eat BEFORE you go.  Make sure to eat a healthy and balanced breakfast.  This will rev up your metabolism and help you stay on track with the rest of your food choices for the day.  If you’re very easily tempted by calorie laden foods (I don’t know anyone who isn’t!), eat a healthy snack/meal such as a vegetable salad topped with a  homemade vinaigrette like olive oil + red wine vinegar + seasonings; a bowl of broth-based vegetable soup;  a cup of fresh fruit; a cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh fruit mixed in; an ounce of raw almonds. The point is not to show up at the event starving! Intense hunger often leads to poor food choices and overeating.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink a lot of water on the day and/or the night before the big event.  Many people overeat because they are confusing their thirsty cues for hungry cues. If you stay well hydrated, you will feel less hungry.  Plus, the hydration will prepare your body for all those sodium laden foods as well as minimize dehydration from alcohol consumption.
  • If you like wine, stick to Champagne (78 calories for a 4oz serving); Chardonnay, Zinfandel or Riesling (90 calories per 4oz serving); Merlot or Rose(95 calories per 4oz serving). Or turn the richer wines into a wine spritzer.  If you like hard liquor be aware that 1 oz is roughly 60-75 calories, depending on which one you choose. Avoid mixing them with full calorie sodas, eggnog,  juices, and frozen drinks.
  •  Bring a healthy dish! If you’re required to bring a food item to a gathering, bring something healthy so that you have at least one nutritious food to enjoy guilt-free.
  • Serve yourself. Let YOU be in control of what you get to eat. Do not let someone portion it out for you.
  • Avoid dips and sauces! Most foods taste just fine without those high fat accessories.
  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables! Get a plate and fill half of it with raw produce and steamed veggies. Then fill a quarter of the plate with a serving of lean protein.  The remaining quarter of the plate can be filled with a tablespoon or two of your absolute favorite, but not so healthy, sides. The goal is to satisfy your taste buds with a few bites of naughty good stuff.
  • Save the rolls and stuffing for last. These items are very light in volume and rich in calories, which means it will take a high quantity of them in order for you to feel full. If you save them for the end of your meal, you’re least likely to overeat on them.
  • Only eat the foods you truly enjoy. If you discover that you don’t like something, stop eating it to avoid needless calorie intake.  Do not feel like you need to eat it to spare someone’s feelings. Your health is your priority, not their feelings.
  • Savor each sip and bite! Party and holiday foods are sinfully delicious, so slow down and enjoy all the flavors and textures thoroughly.
  • Do not go back for seconds. Yes, this is a hard one! But if you set a rule to stick to one plate, think about how proud of yourself you will be!
  • Just say NO! If someone tries to offer you more food, it is ok to say no. Let them know that everything was delicious and you aren’t able to eat another bite!
  • If multiple desserts are present, put a couple of bites worth of all your favorites (or one small serving of one dessert) on a small plate. Once that dessert plate is empty, you’re done.  If your sweet tooth is still aching, try eating a peppermint  or chewing some low-calorie gum. Drinking water will also help too as it will cleanse the mouth of the sweetness and make you feel full.
  • Do not hover!  Avoid socializing near the buffet table, kitchen, or bartender or you will do lots of needless snacking and drinking. Encourage folks to chat in areas away from those temptations. Also try talking while standing up, since that burns more calories than sitting down.
  • If music is playing, dance! Dancing is a great way to sneak in some exercise. If you can’t find any adults to dance with you, gather up the kids at the party and invent new dance moves together.
  • If you’re hosting a party, plan some fun activities not centered around food.  Things like party games, dance contests, and karaoke or outdoor activities like flag football or snowball fights will all burn calories as well as create happy memories that loved ones will remember forever.
  • Focus on the true meaning of these gatherings.  Sadly, we spend way too much emphasis on food preparation and consumption instead of enjoying the company of their friends and loved ones.  Spend time catching up with them, hugging them,  and taking a lot of photos together.  The feast should be a compliment to the gathering, not the main event!
  • On the day after, get back on track with your normal healthy habits of daily exercise, proper calorie consumption, and adequate water intake.

Following these tips will help you maintain your current weight during the holidays.   And hey, if you’re extra diligent, you might even see some weight come off!!

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