According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories during a typical Thanksgiving dinner. To put that into context that is about 2 and 1/2 days worth of calories for most females, all at one meal!
Can you enjoy a holiday meal or social occasions without the guilt and the bloat? I say YES! And it won't involve baking a low fat version of something or only eating salad while that pumpkin pie passes you by. Working with Wellness Campaign and our wellness group community has lead to the development of 6 realistic and practical strategies for handling holidays and social eating.
To be successful at the holiday time it is not a requirement to do all 6 strategies at every event or party. Rather pick one to two to utilize before you head to a holiday or social event. To add that extra accountability share what strategies you are going to use with a family member or friend.
Social Eating & Holiday Challenges
from Wellness Campaign
Strategy #1: Small Plate Challenge
A simple change from a 12″ plate at dinner to 8-10″ plate could mean a 22% reduction in calories at a meal. Those 2 inches have enough impact on calories, yet are not drastic enough to trigger a response of feeling deprived. Grab the 8″ salad plates and put your whole meal on that. You will feel full and still have your favorite holiday foods.
Strategy #2: Healthy Start & Wait...
When you first arrive at a party locate the vegetables and fruit in the room, fill a small plate and enjoy as you start to socialize. Once you complete your fruit and vegetable plate, wait about 15-30 minutes before you select any other food choices. This will allow your brain to get the signal from your stomach about your sensation of fullness much sooner during the meal. This will also lead to smarter food choice as you will hopefully feel less hungry.
Strategy #3: Rule of 3s
It is unrealistic to deprive yourself completely at parties and social gatherings. I want you to be a food snob because that is precious real-estate on your plate and it should only be filled with foods you absolutely love and enjoy! When you sit for a meal or approach a buffet, I want you to scan all the food options available. Once you have done that, select your top 3 foods that you can't imagine not eating, (fruits and vegetables are free). Take a reasonable portion of each and place on your small plate and enjoy the heck out of them. If you feel you are still hungry, head back for some more fruits and vegetables, and remind yourself “you just had 3 foods that you really wanted and you enjoyed them!”
Strategy #4: Get Moving
Set the tone for the day by committing to some type of exercise or movement on the day of a social gathering or holiday. This will give you a little buffer for some of you indulgences but more importantly will keep you in the mindset that health is still a priority. Think of ways to incorporate exercise during your holiday week/weekend. Give a few of these suggestions a try:
Walk the track during the local high school football game
Take a walk between dinner and dessert
Set a step goal for the day
Start your day with at home yoga class/dvd
Sign up for a race or fitness class. Many organization and gyms are offering classes on actual Holidays.
Strategy #5: Alcohol Match
Alcohol calories can add up quick, especially when socializing when you are caught not paying attention or the “peer pressure” to have another cocktail kicks in. Alcohol match is a great solution. For every drink you have, you must match with water/seltzer before you have/order another. This strategy will slow down your drinking, while keeping you well hydrated and feeling good in the AM. Be that person who bring a case of seltzer to the party, you will be shocked how quickly it goes.
Strategy #6: Party's Over & So is the Eating!
Eating “poorly” one day is not the reason you gain weight during the holidays. It is what you do the next day, to weeks, to months that follow a social gathering or holiday. Are you having pie for breakfast? Or are you getting back to your bowl of oatmeal with blueberries? Enjoy the meal with your small plate, have all the things you have been looking forward to. The next morning after the holiday get right back to your usual routine. Don’t let the holiday eating carry on.