'Tis the season for holiday parties. This Friday I have my office party, this Saturday is a Mom's Night In, complete with sewing and wine, next Thursday is Charlie's holiday show, and next Saturday is another Mom's Night Wine Tasting. All that plus a cookie swap the following Monday. And that's just the first two weeks of the month! The news outlets like to take advantage of the season and draw extra attention to their health and wellness sections, which invariably include tips on how to keep from enjoying the yummy food that goes along with the holiday season. Waaaaaaaay back in 2008 I posted my own thoughts on the issue, and since I still think they're relevant I'm going to repost it for you. Not like any of you have seen it before, back then I had a whopping three followers. Oh wait, still do :)
Every year I read the same articles that tell you how to avoid gaining weight during this festive season. Every year I read the same couple of tips that just stare out at me as being completely unrealistic. I'm going to share my favorites with you. You're so lucky!
1. Avoid Temptation
Avoid constantly putting yourself in situations that tempt you. For example, don’t walk through the break room at work 10 times a day when you know it's filled with holiday treats and candies. Spend a few minutes in the morning packing a healthy snack (like almonds, a piece of fruit or a yogurt) so you'll have a healthy weight-loss alternative.
And don't place treats on your kitchen counter to stare you in the face or take four desserts off the buffet vowing to take only one bite of each. Remember, EAT before you meet. Have this small meal before you go to any parties: a hardboiled egg, apple, and a thirst quencher (water, seltzer, diet soda, tea).
This is a great idea in theory, but who the hell can actually do this in practice? In reality you know that the almonds, fruit, and yogurt are going to be left to languish in the back of the workroom refrigerator in favor of cookies and other such niceties. As for the second tip, if you eat that small meal before the party you're inevitably going to end up eating the equivalent of two meals by the time all is said and done. So what if you had a hardboiled egg? Are you still going to be passing up chocolate? May as well skip the calories in the egg and apple altogether and just have chocolate for dinner instead.
2. Liquid calories count
Holidays are notorious for tempting us with drinks we wouldn't normally consume. Alcohol offers no nutrients — just empty calories, and we often forget to count them. Eggnog coffee drinks with whipped cream, hot toddies, spiced rum, these drinks can have as many calories as a personal pan pizza! Limit your consumption and order sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice instead. It'll look festive and save calories. If you want to go for the alcohol, alternate alcoholic drinks with diet-friendly, calorie-free sparkling water.
This is all true, but what they're forgetting here is that "sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice" isn't going to help us deal with those difficult people in our lives that come out of the woodwork around the holiday season. It also won't help you handle hosting a holiday with grace, or ensure that you're relaxed enough to keep you from grinding your teeth down to nothing while you clench your jaw to avoid saying something in the heat of a discussion that you might regret later (Why yes, of course I believe that women should know their place and stay inside the home. Why no, I don't believe that men and women are intellectual equals). Please understand that I'm not in any way shape or form saying that alcohol is necessary to make it through the holiday season, just that it can go a long way in maintaining quality family relations.
3. Save it for something special
Indulge only in new, interesting foods; have one taste of each. Avoid feeling deprived and distracted by food all evening long — allow yourself one dessert or holiday truffle per event. When you’re done, destroy the plate. If you've had enough to eat but others are still picking, dump salt over any food you have left.
Sure, I'll just have one bite of chocolate. Like I said above, I would just make that the whole meal. That's my personal issue though, instead of giving up on the dessert part I just won't eat any "real food" to make up for it. I do that during work potluck lunches pretty regularly. Who needs chili, soup, or appetizers? Pass the dessert, please.
I do like the salt idea, but I suffer from "leftovers guilt" and can't bear to throw away food. This is why at any given time you will find a random collection of neatly packed tupperware containers stacked in our fridge. What's in there right now? Leftover calzone filling? Check. Leftover corn tortilla strips? Check. A tea bag that I can reuse because the flavor is so strong? Check. Half of a green pepper that I know I have little intention of actually finishing? Check.