Okay, it’s that time of year – the holidays – time for parties and feasts and drinking and less time for exercising when you’re spending all that times partaking in vast quantities of delicious calories. The annual dilemma shared by many is how to attend all these parties and holiday dinners without putting on extra fat.
The answer is to NOT to avoid the festivities like several of my clients have suggested. No, the better solution is to apply a few tricks of the fitness trade to shave off some of the fat (both via smarter nutrition choices and squeezing in extra exercise).
Here’s a few tips to help you have your cake (or pumpkin pie) and eat it too!
1. Before attending any holiday party, have a small serving of raw, steamed or lightly sautéed veggies. These veggies will ensure that you are not feeling overly-hungry and thus prone to over-indulging. Also, they will provide you with a nice layer of fiber which will keep you regular in spite of ingesting higher-fat and slower digesting foods.
2. If you are in charge of any of the holiday feasts or parties, try using a healthier menu for the same food favorites. Example: If you must have traditional green bean casserole (green beans, cheese, cream of mushroom soup), trying using either non-fat or organic cream of mushroom soup (available at most grocery stores) and vegan cheese. Or make your fresh apple pies with ½ the amount of suggested sugar AND change out refined white or brown sugar for coconut sugar, xylitol, or maple syrup. (The internet is littered with great options for leaner recipes of traditional foods – google or scan Pinterest for ideas.)
3. If an event offers a buffet (as many corporate parties do), check out the offerings first, then decide what dishes you most want and use the “Rule of Five” – 2 proteins, 2 fun carbs (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes), and 1 dessert. Keep your portions small, and wait 10 minutes before attempting seconds. You will likely find yourself full if you can wait a little while. Otherwise, hit the dance floor (if dancing is offered) and work up the need for more fuel.
4. Booze – do not forget that alcohol has sugar and that messes with your body’s blood sugar, which in turn messes with how you digest your food and how much gets stored as fat. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks max (in a 2-3 hour period). This will not only keep your fat levels under control, but will likely not get you a DUI either!
5. As for exercise, take a daily walk with family, the dogs, or even by yourself. Just one average paced mile can level out your insides from the decadent dish or cocktails the night before. When out shopping, park further away, all those extra steps add up! During time off, engage more with the kids. If you have long trips facing you, break them up with challenges at rest stops or airports (jumping jacks, incline push ups off the backs of chairs, air-squats, lunge walks through the terminal).
6. Lastly, do not forget to drink plenty of water. High sodium foods, alcohol, and excessive refined sugar deplete the body of hydration. Water will keep these toxins flushed and your fat retention will be lower.
So go enjoy, but remember MODERATION makes for a balance between health and enjoying the decadent holidays to their fullest. That’s all any of us can ask for.