You managed to survive Thanksgiving dinner with sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce; then came Christmas Eve with plenty of pasta and seafood, if you are Italian. Maybe, it was the potato pancakes and jelly donuts to celebrate Hanukkah or just the recent holidays in general that made your clothes too tight and your level of frustration sky high! We are down to one more major social gathering known as New Year’s Eve; it is usually enjoyed with over indulgence in eating and drinking and not enough sleep. Be self motivated and do not let anyone influence your choices for the night.
Celebrations do not have to center around high calorie, high fat and high sugar treats; holiday times can be full of rushing, anxiety and energy depletion. Try to make the occasion about friends and family more than the buffet table. You can make a conscious decision to begin change before New Year’s Eve by following some of the suggestions below.
- Americans drink about 20% of their calories on a normal day and increase that number during the holiday season due to drinks such as eggnog, sodas, mixers, fruit juice or punch as well as special holiday cocktails. Prior to the function, try to fill a measuring cup using plain water – 4 ounces- a serving of wine, 12 ounces – a serving of beer or 1.5 ounces – a serving of hard liquor, just to see what a real portion looks like. Wine glasses have become bloated just as plates have grown over the years and the usual pour is now between 6-8 ounces. Look for light beer, dry wine such as Cabernet sauvignon or sauvignon blanc. If you are in charge of the party, consider making the drinks festive with mini umbrellas, frozen fruit ice cubes, add mint leaves or cucumber slices. Substitute sparkling water, no calorie flavored water, or club soda and add lemons, limes or orange slices. Stay hydrated because alcohol will dehydrate you and remember to eat when drinking alcohol since it can cause hypoglycemia. Carry a glass all evening which makes it harder to carry a plate.
- Have breakfast the day of New Years Eve as well as New Years Day (you should never skip breakfast). Skipping breakfast can mess with your hormones and actually raise your blood sugar. Remember to eat again before going out and try to include a lean protein as well as a carbohydrate that is high in fiber; never be too hungry or too full.
- Bring something to the gathering that you know is safe to eat. Keep it simple, like cubes of low fat cheese and pear slices or grapes. Make wrap ups of lean meat covered in roasted peppers, basil or lettuce leaves. Stuff soft cheese like Swiss Knight or low fat ricotta into baby tomatoes and garnish with fresh dill. Chicken fingers can be made by dipping in Greek yogurt and coating in whole wheat bread crumbs, then bake.
- At the buffet table – Take inventory, search first before you grab; look for chew and crunch. More fiber makes the body work harder to digest the food and makes you full quicker. Say “What can I miss on this table without regrets?” Mix colors- get purple, red, yellow and green vegetables. Look for bite size foods, mini-servings, shrimp or salmon pieces, low calorie dips and cut food in half before putting on your plate. Do not graze the table, use napkin eating or fist grabbing because you wouldn’t be able to measure how much you actually ate. Take a plate, leave the edges empty and know there are no refills; make your choices and stick to them.
- Keep up with exercise before and after the event. A 30 minute walk burns about 200 calories. Think about interval training. Add resistance or weight training; muscle burns more calories than fat and the more muscle you have on board, the better the excess holiday calories will be burned!
- Holiday spices are delicious and full of anti-oxidants to keep your immune system working during fun yet stressful times. Cinnamon, ginger, peppermint and nutmeg should be included when possible.
- Wear form fitting clothing to the party which will remind you to stop eating sooner!
- Cheat with dark chocolate – 70% cocoa or more which is lower in sugar and carbs; add a peppermint stick which will last for a long time if licked not bitten (sugar is a carb, so just eat less of a different carb that night).
Holidays are a wonderful time and we usually look forward to them all year long .Do not punish yourself if you succumb to the temptations and slip up. Remember, if you can be reasonable 90% of the time and splurge 10% of the time, it will be OK; we are human! Happy New Year!
NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.