The big day is almost here — The Super Bowl of Food! The day we get together with our family and sometimes have to deal with awkward questions from nosy/well-intentioned loved ones. People spend lots of money and time to make large, decadent meals.
You’ve worked hard the past few weeks. You made it to the gym or to your boot camp every day last week! You were careful when ordering take-out. But you still don’t want all of your hard work to go down the drain, nor do you want to deprive yourself.
Our culture, especially the during the holidays, revolves around food.
It seems, sometimes, to be the entire point of a get together. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the day…without the self-loathing later.
1. Eat before the big event.
If you are going over to Aunt Sally’s at 3 p.m., make sure you’ve had breakfast, a glass of water, and maybe even a small salad before you pack up the car. When you arrive starving, you are more likely to go overboard with the appetizers laid out.
2. Let others get ahead of you in line.
A full dish heaped with a mountain of mashed potatoes next to a full gravy boat is very enticing. A half full dish isn’t as luring.
3. Turn your plate into a rainbow.
A variety of food will help you to get the most variety of nutrients – vitamins and minerals, not just nutrient-lacking carbs. The different colored food will also tend to have different textures, giving more eating pleasure.
4. Make smaller dishes.
We love to make large dishes, or double a recipe, to feed large crowds of people. But chances are really good that there will be a plethora of dishes at the buffet and sometimes just a bite or two is really all that’s needed to satiate a craving.
5. Choose booze or sugar — not both.
These two food groups pack a huge caloric punch for their volumes. If you go full blast for all the choices, bloating, lethargy, and disappointment are sure to follow.
6. If you choose booze, make a low-calorie drink.
Mixed drinks can be a “two-fer”: both alcohol AND sugar, which are just empty calories and both negatively affect blood sugar levels. Alcohol is a toxin and the body treats it as such, expelling all of its energy into ridding itself of it, thereby disrupting other bodily functions, such as digestion and regulation of hormones, to do so.. Be wise with your choices. If you like mixed drinks, a great substitute is vodka and La Croix. La Croix is super trendy right now and can be found at most grocers. It is naturally flavored, carbonated water that has no sugar or artificial ingredients, and comes in about 20 different flavors. My favorite is the Cherry Lime/Cerise Limón. Mix it with vodka and it is a grown-up version of a Sonic Cherry Limeade.
The best part of getting a case of La Croix is that it is a perfect substitute for kiddos or other non-drinkers to have instead of chemical-laden soda/pop and you can make festive mocktails. Here is a link with some recipes to inspire you.
7. If you choose sugar, make one indulgence.
A piece of pie, any flavor, has a significant amount of calories and sugar. Choose one dessert to have one serving of and let that be the pièce de résistance to an amazing meal.
8. Practice mindful eating.
If possible, make sure to sit down while eating. Hopefully there will be no electronic distractions at the dinner table. Take two or three bites, set down your fork, take a drink, and reply with a witty comeback to cousin John’s comment about current events. Oftentimes we consume our meals so fast that our brains have a lag time in realizing that we are full.
9. Stay hydrated.
As I tell my kids all the time, much to their annoyance, sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. Drink a glass of water before the meal starts.
10. Help clean up.
Especially if you are not hosting, assisting on the clean-up crew is such a big help to your host/hostess. It also helps to ensure that you are not going back for seconds.