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As we all know, there are two kinds of spreads during the holidays: the buffet spread of all the great-tasting foods we know we shouldn’t eat and the spread that happens in our bodies as a result: the belly spread, the thigh spread and the butt spread. This last spread is the one that will see us running for our “fat pants” with the elastic waist.
How do we enjoy the first and avoid the second? Here are five of my favorite strategies:
1. Prepare before you party.
You are heading to a holiday party. What should you do during the 48 hours preceding it? Get your 8 hours of sleep, keep with your exercise regimen and eat healthy foods. Second, hydrate. You will want to drink the suggested 2 liters of water (not soda or caffeinated beverages) prior to the joining the buffet line. Third, eat something before you go. Don’t go to the party hungry or you’ll overeat. Have a light snack prior to leaving the house. A salad with a vinaigrette and lean protein is always a good choice.
2. Sip, don’t chug.
The first thing that will greet you at the party is the bar. I suggest that you opt for non-alcoholic, but it is the holidays so keep in mind that wine is better than beer; a light beer is better than wine and a wine spritzer is better than straight vino. Drinks made with eggnog and sugar will derail your healthy lifestyle, but if you must, just have one sip.
3. Make smart food choices.
The second thing you’ll need to tackle is the food. If you use a small plate, you’ll feel like you’re eating more. Opt for “whole” foods like shrimp cocktail, veggies and salad – but skip the creamy dressings. Look for foods that will take longer to eat and are filling.
The more you walk around and talk to people, the less you will eat. If you are not particularly enjoying the company, go home. Of course, this does not apply to work parties where we HAVE to go but rarely want to. Did I just say that?
5. Keep your health in mind.
If you have any health issues like heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes or high blood pressure, please stick to your dietary restrictions. When I was in training and practicing medicine, at least one of my patients would always end up in the ER on Christmas Day or New Year’s from eating something that they shouldn’t have. People with congestive heart failure and high blood pressure should not have high-salt foods. Avoid the ham, sausage and processed meats. If you have diabetes, you’ll need to watch the breads and desserts.
If you stick to these five suggestions, you will avoid the BAD spread (and some health disasters) while enjoying the GOOD spread.
Have a blessed holiday season and a healthy New Year!