How to Get Through the Holidays Without Packing on Pounds
BY Barbara Mendez
Those company Christmas parties are minefields of tempting treats. Here's how to indulge without regrets.
The holidays can be a very stressful time for anyone, but when you run your own company and are struggling with balancing the demands of your work with your responsibilities at home, it can be especially difficult. Holiday season can stretch you thin and stress you out. Then there are all those holiday parties. Even if you are a disciplined and well-intentioned eater, the holidays can be hazardous time for your waistline.
But there some things you can do to keep yourself trim, happy, and energized this season. Here are some tips to get you through all of those holiday parties without packing on extra pounds:
1. Don’t skip breakfast. People sometimes skip meals, especially breakfast, when they know they're going to be eating larger than normal meals at night, and this happens a lot during holiday season. They figure if they are going to load up on calories at night, then they should reduce calories in the morning so they don't gain weight. This is a huge misconception.
Skipping breakfast actually contributes to overeating later in the day. Your body is programmed to need a certain amount of energy in the form of calories, so when you skimp on one end, it is going to physiologically prompt you to eat more and make up for what was omitted earlier. Plus, skipping breakfast can lead to low blood sugar, making it hard for you to control what and how much you eat when you finally do eat, leading to over consumption. Your best breakfast bet is protein. Try eggs with vegetables, like a spinach omelet with tomatoes. Another good option, although not particularly high in protein, is oatmeal with nuts, fruit, and cinnamon. The nuts and the fruit will help you feel full longer.
2. Eat a snack before you go. Holiday parties can be a smorgasbord of typically forbidden food. Unless you have a steel will, holiday parties can sidetrack your best intentions. People tell themselves, “Well, it is a special occasion, so I guess I can just start again tomorrow.” To minimize this problem, eat a healthy snack before you go to a party. Nuts are a good choice because they contain fat, which triggers the satiety center of the brain, leading to a quick feeling of satisfaction. Pre-party snacking will help you feel less hungry when faced with all that tempting food. And if you do indulge, you'll feel fuller faster.
3. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. This doesn’t mean don’t drink, but be mindful of quantity. Alcohol contains empty calories. One five-ounce glass of wine is 150 calories. So, if you have two glasses, there is 300 calories. Plus, when people drink, they tend to eat more. Studies estimate that people consume an additional 350 calories just from extra food when they drink alcohol while eating. And that's not including the calories from alcohol.
4. Load up on crudités--and skip the cheese. There's usually a vegetable platter at these functions. And right next to it, competing with it, is the more appealing tray of cheese and crackers. It's tough to resist cheese, but a single ounce has as much as 100 calories. If you're not careful, in the course of an evening, you could have seven or eight slices. That's about 700 to 800 calories before dinner--and that's not including the crackers! You're better off filling up on vegetables (and a little bit of dip for flavor).
5. Socialize while you eat. Once you have filled your plate with your appetizers, walk around and socialize. Try to move away from the buffet table so as not to give in to mindless eating. This is a good opportunity to network. Additionally, if you chat while snacking you will eat more slowly. And slowing down helps send the signal to your brain that you are full--before you have done too much damage.
Take these suggestions, and you'll have a healthier, happier holiday season!