1. Focus on the people, not the food.
Remember that holiday parties and social functions are meant to be times to get together with loved ones. Get in the spirit of the holiday season by celebrating your personal relationships, and recognize that you’re not just there for the food.
2. Make the occasional party the exception to your diet, not the rule.
Splurging once in a while is not generally a major problem, as long as you get back to your diet the next day. Don’t let one or two holiday events be the excuse for falling off the wagon till New Year’s.
3. Consider volunteering to host the party yourself.
There’s no better way to ensure that there will be diet-friendly, healthy choices on the menu than by throwing the party throwing the party yourself. If someone else is hosting the party, offer to bring food to the party so that you can be sure that there are food options that fit into your diet program. At least there will be one dish on the buffet that you can enjoy without worrying about the calorie count.
4. Prepare so you don’t arrive at a holiday party on an empty stomach.
Have a light, healthy snack shortly before leaving for the party. Choose protein-rich foods, such as low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, as the protein will stick with you and help you feel full longer. Alternatively, eat a small green salad as the fiber will also fill you up; another good choice is to boil a sweet corn cob. By taking the edge off your hunger, you can approach the buffet table with control and be less likely to make impulsive choices at the party.
◦ Never skip a meal before the party. You’ll arrive ravenous and vulnerable to overeating.
◦ If you cannot eat something before arriving at the party, ask the host or hostess for a large glass of water as soon as you arrive.
5. Choose wisely from the foods available at holiday functions.
If you look carefully, you’ll find there are often acceptable healthy choices available to you. Concentrate on the cocktail shrimp, smoked salmon, and fresh fruit, salads or vegetable platters. Go easy on the accompanying sauces and dips. Raw mixed nuts, particularly almonds, are good sources of protein, but be wary of candied nuts or extremely salty nut mixes.
◦ Fill your (small) plate once only. By controlling the amount you eat at festive parties and not grazing through all the snacks, you’ll avoid weight gain.
◦ Never eat food you don’t love. You’ll need to say “no” sometimes but that’s good for you too––being manipulated into making food choices is no longer an option for you.
◦ Try new foods and skip the same old food you could easily have at home. Give your taste buds a treat while avoiding overeating anything that is standard fare.
6. Eat slowly and mindfully.
It takes our body about 20 minutes to realize that we are full. Also, the more slowly you eat, the less food you’ll eat as opposed to eating fast in the same amount of time. As you eat, appreciate the food and acknowledge how it tastes––mindful eating is a way to slow down the process of gulping down food.
◦ Wait your turn. Never be in a rush to reach the food table. Chat with guests and slowly make your way toward the food.
7. Drink responsibly.
Consider sparkling mineral water or non-alcoholic drinks, such as a “Virgin Mary.” If you decide to drink alcohol, choose white or red wine, rather than champagne or hard liquor. Intersperse all alcoholic drinks with water, and you can even water down the alcohol with sparkling water. Bear in mind that alcohol can take away your willpower to resist overeating.
◦ Steer clear of soda, too. It’s very high in sugar.
◦ Fill your glass with ice, taking away the space for too much alcohol.
◦ If you have control over the party, don’t tie celebrating to drinking and eating. Stick to non-alcoholic drinks and try to include some activity to keep everyone active, such as Christmas games, a trip to a local indoor sports center or, if you’re in a warmer climate, a game of football or cricket outdoors.
8. Stay active during the holidays.
Mingle, dance and do what you can to stay active (and as far away from the buffet table as possible). Keep your metabolism up by staying active and including lots of healthy exercise during the holiday season.
◦ Simply by taking a 30 minute walk each day, you can help keep the weight off. Find those 30 minutes somewhere during the day, even if it means borrowing Fido from the neighbors, and give your body the exercise it deserves.
10. Reward yourself.
It’s the holiday season, so general deprivation is not the way to go. Simply shift rewards from food to activities, like going to the cinema, going ice-skating, visiting friends or buying yourself a new article of clothing. By moving the focus off food and onto doing fun things, you’ll continue to enjoy the spirit of the season and stick with your diet.
11. When you go out to eat to finish all of your plate.
Ask for a to go box and place half the portion of your plate in it.
• Drink a glass of water (iced water can be even more effective) before dinner.
• If you want to try out a number of dishes, take small portions of the food selections, instead of full-sized portions of everything. This way, you can still get to enjoy the food without having to consume too many calories.
• Consider wearing tight-ish clothing to your holiday parties. Keeping a belt or waistband cinched tight will help you feel fuller faster, and remind you to not stuff yourself.
• Above all relax. Prepare yourself mentally: see yourself eating slowly and savoring your food. You can acquire this habit and keep it for the rest of your life, not only during the holidays.
• Try the 3-bite method (a branch of mindful eating). Take a small portion of the desired treat. Before you jump in and swallow it without a thought, take a good look at it and tell yourself, “I get three bites!” After the first bite, think, “Wow, that was great and I’m not even through!” Then take the second bite while telling yourself, “I’m only halfway through. This is delicious!” Then get ready for the third bite and think, “I’m really going to enjoy this. It’s my last bite, but this food isn’t leaving the planet anytime soon, so I can have three bites again next year!”