Stay healthy this holiday season without being a party pooper: 10 strategies

Coming up to the holiday season with all the wonderful calorie laden goodies, lunches and cocktail parties how do we ensure we enjoy ourselves and still maintain our weight and health? Whilst we want to indulge we don’t want to end up back to where we started in terms of either feeling below par or putting on the weight we might have lost.

So, I’ll say right from the outset that I’m not the party police and I enjoy the occasional indulgence as much as the next person. For me it is all about moderation. I’m a great advocate of the 80:20 rule so eating healthy 80% of the time i(if you have major health or weight issues I’d actually say aim for the 90:10% rule) and you can’t go far wrong. I love this approach as you can indulge without guilt and yet still feel virtuous and good about yourself. You are in control.

What we want to avoid as so easily can happen is one minor indulgence leading us to conclude we’ve ruined it now and we end up scoffing a whole bowl of crisps or a whole plate of dessert.  We end up giving in and literally giving up and then beat ourselves up afterwards and any enjoyment we had from the food has completely gone. Sound familiar? The 80:20 or 90: 10 way means you can enjoy that treat, savour it and still feel good about yourself.   See how it works?

Ok so my top 10 tips:

1. Have a healthy eating strategy

If you are going to a restaurant research the menu before you arrive to decide the healthiest option to order.  Remember you are in control and you can ask for them to prepare something for you that is not on the main menu. Otherwise, you could always order a couple of appetitisers, a salad, and soup or side vegetable dishes to fill up on rather than indulge in rich dishes.   We call this ‘crowding out ‘with the healthy choices so you have less room for the rest! Or ask if you can have your fish or meat ideally grilled without the sauce of ask for it on the side.    If you do want to indulge, share a meal with a companion or just eat half and take the rest home with you.B

2. Before you go out eat some protein

Or some healthy snacks to keep you going! A handful of unsalted nuts, an apple with some nut butter, a hardboiled egg, some chopped raw vegetable crudités with hummus. These will help prevent you reaching out to the crisps and canapes through sheer hunger when dinner is served. A protein based snack will keep you fuller and satisfied for longer.

3. Drink water

To help fill you up – I like to jazz mine up a bit by adding some lemon or slices or a drop or two of lemon essential oil.   Add cucumber and some strawberries too for a different flavor. Sometimes you can mistake hunger for dehydration and find your hunger has disappeared.

4. Avoid filling up on the bread basket

No more to be said here – it weighs you down and I prefer to use my calories up on healthier options!

5. Scan the spread

Look at everything on offer at a buffet before deciding what to put on your plate. Opt for protein and salads. Beware that not all salads are created equal – opt for those without creamy dressings.  Hummus, salsa and guacamole are healthier than mayonnaise!

6. Pick one thing that you really want and really enjoy and savor it

Eat mindfully, being aware of the textures, smell and tastes –  putting your fork down in between bites,  rather than gobbling  mouthfuls down.  Eating slowly like this means you will feel fuller and more satisfied.

7. Rather than have a whole slice of dessert, opt for a few mouthfuls

Limit yourself to 3 or 4 only – or share a portion with your companion.  Or go for the fruit salad or sorbet option; they can be delicious (yet healthy) alternatives.

8. Have a planned approach to alcohol consumption

Alcohol is not only full of calories and sugar but it can relax you so you reach for that dessert that you don’t really want or need. If you are going to drink make it a long drink, such as a gin and tonic, so that you can take your time over it or opt for one glass of bubbly and then switch to sparkling water with slices of lime or lemon.

9. Have a nourishing protein breakfast

This is an ideal solution on special days such as Christmas or Thanksgiving when you know you’ll be indulging.  My favorite is smoked salmon, scrambled egg and a slice of avocado and lemon on the side.  That means you will balance your blood sugar levels and will be less likely to overindulge at lunchtime on your main meal or on the crisps that may be offered.

10. Have healthy versions of indulgent treats on hand.

This way I don’t feel left out when others are indulging later on in the day on the chocolate liqueurs, Christmas cake etc.  My go to treat is some healthy raw cacao balls or my favourite healthy chocolate brownies. 

So with a bit of preparation and planning you can basically have your cake and eat it (Sorry couldn’t resist the pun!). For me this is the best of both worlds – indulging in moderation and still feeling very virtuous that I have not sabotaged my healthy lifestyle or been a part pooper! Aaaaand you will be especially smug in the New Year when you don’t need to detox or diet! One less goal to have to achieve in 2017!


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