Let’s talk about the how to successfully maneuver holiday parties. This information is useful for parties or events that are that you are not ‘cashing in’ for a splurge meal. But it is also good for times when you are going to splurge but you at the same time want to minimize ‘dietary damage.’
The first thing we are going to talk about with parties is alcohol. Alcohol puts the biochemical breaks on fat loss. But socially oftentimes there is pressure to ‘have a drink.’ What can you do? The first option is to minimize the amount of carbohydrates you have with your alcohol. As this combination makes the impact of alcohol on fat loss even worse. The biggest source of carbohydrates are the mixers that come with most spirits. The worst are the pre-made mixers. These are loaded with added sugars. If you want to avoid alcohol but still want to feel social. Use this simple fix. Club soda with a lime. It looks just like you are drinking a vodka soda or a gin and tonic but it is calorie free. This way you can be…Still social And still be losing fat.
Your next key strategy is to exercise before you go to a party. This is one of your best strategies regardless of if you are planning on splurging or not. It is probably more important if you are planning on splurging because it will impact what your body does with the calories you are consuming. Exercise has ‘drug like effects’ on your body. What I mean by this is that exercise sensitizes your muscles to the hormone insulin making your muscles a carbohydrate sponge. When you eat carbs you want them to get shuttled to muscles – instead of fat cells – and exercise helps make this happen.
The next strategy is to pre-eat. It seems counter intuitive but eating a salad or broth based soup before you head out to an event or eat a big meal will actually cause you to eat less.
MINDLESS EATING STRATEGIES
DON’T STAND NEAR THE FOOD
Now we are going to shift into some mindless eating strategies. These are factors that unknowingly cause you to eat more calories. This first is where you stand. Don’t stand near the food. Get your food and start a conversation on the other side of the room. We have all been in this situation before. You’re standing over a bowl of chex mix having a conversation….next thing you know that conversation is over and so is the chex mix.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are going to easily over consume empty calories without noticing. Get your plate of food and move away from the food table before you start chatting.
Let’s talk about plate size. Research studies looking at the impact of plate size are contradictory. Some show no effect of plate size on calories while others show that serving yourself on a larger plate results in eating 25-50% more food. Grab a smaller plate. Even if there is not effect, no big deal. If there is an effect, you are going to save yourself a lot of calories.
SIZE OF GLASS
The size of glass you choose can make a difference as well. If you are opting for a calorie containing beverage then you should pour yourself a drink in a tall thin glass compared to a short and fat glass. Research from Cornell University shows that pouring your beverage into a short fat glass will cause you to do pour and drink 30% more.
The last essential piece for successful nutrition navigating and surviving holiday parties is food selection. What should you eat?
- Most parties have a featured protein like turkey, roast beef, or ham. These are good choices.
- Vegetables, either raw and cut up or roasted are also almost always a party staple. Load up on these, especially in the hors d’oeuvre department.
- Speaking of hors d’oeuvres, other common options are cheese, nuts, and/or hummus with the later being your preferred ‘dipping’ condiment.
- Hummus is preferred over a creamy dressing because you never really know how many calories you are getting with a creamy dressing. Some can contain upwards of 18 grams of fat for every 2 tablespoons.
So if you’re looking to control calories at a party, you should avoid creamy dressings. Speaking of foods to avoid….
The list of food don’ts are your holiday parties is very simple. We want to avoid low fiber, refined, high carbohydrate foods. These foods are very easy to over consume while providing no nutritional value or satiety impact.