[The holiday season is upon us. It’s a season of celebration which, among other things, means a month filled with food and drink temptations. I’ve asked a number of food and fitness experts to chime in with some tips for a “Healthy Holiday” East Coast By Choice series in order to help minimize the need for a New Year’s resolution that involves swearing off of chocolate for a year. This first guest is no stranger to the site. So without further ado, here’s some helpful advice from the blogger behind With Bite.]
By Kristen Pickett
One of the most common questions that I’m asked as a freelance food writer is “How do you stay so tiny?” Well, I’m about to tell you the answer to the $60 million-dollar question: Work. Well, work and a little thing called willpower.
Be aware of liquid calories!
That’s right; it’s not easy to be surrounded by food in my professional job as an event planner as well as in my casual one as a food writer and not be over overweight. When I first started down my food lovin’ path, I realized early on that choices would have to be made and willpower used in order to continue on this path. It’s difficult, but not impossible.
Please remember this when you’re faced with the dreaded “holiday party pounds”, every dieter’s nightmare. You can do it! You can survive the holidays and go back to the office not being the one complaining about how much weight you’ve gained.
Here are my top 8 suggestions on how to avoid the holiday bulge. OK, I know 8 is random number, but I have so many suggestions that I’d feel pretty Scrooge-like keeping them all to myself. You may start this at Christmastime, but these are simple steps that you can adopt in your daily life, in order to put your skinniest foot forward.
Tip 1: Eat before you go out. That’s right, fill ‘er up! Fill up on the good stuff, I mean. Eat some fresh fruit, a warm pureed vegetable soup or a big salad with lean protein before you leave for a holiday party. If you’re not hungry when you arrive, you’re less likely to cave for calorie-laden snacks.
Tip 2: Think before you eat, evaluate your hunger. Yes, that might seem like a drag when plump and juicy sausage rolls are being passed around or the Quality Street is calling out from it’s tin. But think about it: are you really all that hungry, or just bored? If the answer is the latter, try to get outside for a brisk walk or play some board games with your family in front of a roaring fire. Distract yourself and you’ll probably realize that you weren’t that hungry after all.
Tip 3: Avoid the buffet. Unless you have some serious self-control, assess the buffet, fill your plate and keep moving! Don’t linger, don’t collect $200, just pass “go!” If you hang out by the buffet table, you’re more likely to keep going back for more. If you fill a plate and sit down to consciously eat your meal, you’re less likely to go for seconds.
Tip 4: Go for quality over quantity! Is it really quality food that you’re eating? Consider this; compare waxy old chocolates to luscious, decadent Lindt ones. For every one Lindt chocolate that you’ll eat, you’d probably have to consume about 5 of the crappy ones to create the same feeling of satisfaction. So go for quality the first time! Which brings me to the next tip…
Tip 5: Beware of Christmas-themed foods. Remember that even though they’re red and green, Christmas M&Ms don’t taste any different from the all seasons variety. People tend to eat more of novelty food simply because it’s Christmas-themed. So pass on the chocolate kisses wrapped in red and green foil, and go for something you can’t get all year round such as egg nog or candy cane ice cream.
Tip 6: Watch your back. If you’re going to a holiday party, the host/hostess has enough to think about without having to worry about your diet. If you want something low-fat, low-cal, low-carb, whatever – bring it yourself! It goes without saying that an overwhelmed host will appreciate the offer and be thrilled to have one less thing to take care of.
Tip 7: Be aware of liquid calories. As with any kind of mixed drink, wine or beer, you’re consuming liquid calories in addition to the ones you eat. Try this: Drink water! No, I don’t mean be lame and drink tap water. Bring a bottle of sparkling water – Perrier or San Pellegrino, and a couple of sliced lemons or limes and have a nice fizzy drink between every glass of alcohol. The fizz will help to fill you up, leaving you less hungry to consume snacks.
Tip 8: Exercise! This is just commonsense. If you’re gong to consume more calories during the holiday season, make sure that you burn more! Bundle up and take a walk to look at Christmas lights or visit your local ice rink and play a game of hockey with your neighbours. This might also be a time to try and switch up your activity level. If you’re used to the beginner yoga class, try the intermediate, or add another ½ hour of cardio at the gym.
Hopefully my 8 steps will give you some food for thought over the holidays. These are no-fail tips to stay trim and look terrific. That being said…you can always start in January! Enjoy the holiday season!
Kristen Pickett is an event coordinator in Halifax with a passion for all things culinary. As a freelance food and beverage writer, Kristen’s blog, With Bite serves to profile Halifax’s culinary community. She is a regular food and beverage contributor to Haligonia.ca, as well as various publications in Atlantic Canada.