How to Limit the Damage from Holiday Season Food & Booze

Christmas & New Years is almost here and for many people that means lots of food temptations. Many of you are probably planning on attending holiday parties that are centered around booze, sweets, and lots of buttery, delicious food!!!

Here are a few ideas to help you enjoy the holidays without the crazy weight gain, fatigue, and blah feeling that most people get during this time.

Embrace the good fats. During the holiday, good fats need to be your friend. They will help satiate you so that you have less desire to over-eat. Foods with good fats include nuts, olives, and hard cheeses. You should not go crazy with any of the good fats, just start with them to prevent over-eating at the dessert table.

After you indulge in the good fats the body won’t have as much desire to eat the rich, carb-loaded dishes. Prioritize protein and veggies, and if you can, avoid drinking anything with your meals. This way the body will actually receive the nutrients and vitamins and start to feel full. When you wash food down with drinks some of the body’s enzymes that hold the vitamins and nutrients are lost. You may even find you eliminate heart burn by not drinking with a meal.

CHEW your food! Take time to CHEW and SAVOR to allow the body to understand that it’s eating these nice ‘good fatty’ foods so it starts its satiation.

Choose the right booze. Drinking can be tricky around the holidays!

Here are a few tips to help minimize the damage to your body:

  • Hard alcohol: have it with lots of ICE! It will force you to drink over a longer period of time. As the ice melts, it seems as though you keep having more to drink and it lasts longer this way.
  • Wine: choose dry reds! These also take longer to drink than the sweet, high sugar reds and whites. Dry reds also have fewer carbs.
  • Beer: I’m a big microbrew fan, so it kills me to say this, but STAY AWAY if you can! Or share one with your partner for taste (a couple of sips is all you need). Beers are loaded with carbs (sugars) and will likely lead you to consume more carbs and salt.

Quick notes on alcohol in the body: When you drink it the body knows it is a toxin and goes to work on that FIRST. Until the alcohol is processed through the liver, the liver cannot focus on digesting any of the food you are eating. The food that is not used for energy is stored as FAT. So sip SLOWLY and try to drink after you eat your food.

Booze makes us gain weight during the holidays because it is converted right away into sugar in the body. These calories have no nutritional value, so the body never gets full and craves more sugar and carbs. This leads to consuming way more food than the body actually needs. (Ever wonder why those late night pizza’s are ordered?)

Keep sweets out of your house. Out of sight, out of mind is a nice approach to take with sweets (at least while you are at your house). Do not take any treats home from events and do NOT offer to bring the dessert. Instead, offer to bring a healthy dish. This helps ensure that you’ll have something acceptable to eat at your event.

I tend to lick the bowl of the sweet treats I make and always end up snitching before they make it out of my door. Eliminate all of the temptation and do not surround yourself with sweets. I mentally try to remember how I felt the last time I indulged in a bunch of sweets.   That initial bite was good, but that big belly ache and sugar headache I got afterwards wasn’t worth it!

If and when you do indulge make sure you go for the home-made ones! Eliminate any extra preservatives / additives, and these ones are the best anyways!

Another idea to minimize damage if you do indulge in sweets: eat your cookies and then immediately do 20 jump squats…I like this approach. More on this in a later blog!

Grab a decaf coffee. Decaf, like regular coffee, can be an appetite suppressant.  Pair this with good whipping cream or half and half and you won’t be as tempted to eat that 3rd cookie, hopefully the fat in your coffee with satisfy you.

Stay as far away from the food table as possible. If you are at a social event, steer your conversations to the other side of the room and fully engage with those around you. This will eliminate mindless eating and snacking.

Sit down when you eat your food. Try to actually pause and be mindful of your food, so your mind and body register that you are eating and actually enjoy it.

 Don’t forget water! Not necessarily while you eat, but be drinking water throughout the day, especially first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed.

 Plan a 10 minute cardio workout 30 minutes after dessert. This will help allocate calories / carbs from sweets to be used first as energy. Probably not at a party but definitely at your family’s get together!