Say goodbye to party ‘food hangovers’ and the mental anguish that food buffets can cause, with out 6 simple strategies for navigating holiday food buffets.
#1 Never, Ever Arrive Hungry
We’ve all done it – eaten less during the day of a party, to save room for the Holiday feast. Showing up hungry almost guarantees that you will overeat; it will also make the fatty, sugary foods on offer look a whole lot more appealing. On the day of the party, eat like you would any other day and make sure to include a mix of fibre, protein and healthy fat in your pre-party meal – it will help balance your blood sugar and make it easier for you to make wise food choices.
#2 Drink Up
Drink lots of water throughout the day and during your holiday event. Staying hydrated will help ensure you don’t mistake dehydration for hunger; it will also fill your stomach in partnership with fibre, leaving less room for food. After your holiday meal, allow yourself a small serving of your favourite dessert with some tea, herbal tea or coffee; the warm beverage will fill you up and help distract your mind from thoughts of second (or third) servings.
#3 Practice Plate Tricks
When faced with a food buffet, start by taking a moment to scope out the food. Then use a small plate and fill it up 50 percent with your favourite foods and 50 percent with the least processed veggie dishes you can find. The small plate is important because larger plates can make even large portions looks skimpy and leave you feeling less than satisfied. The 50/50 rule will ensure that you fill yourself up with healthy foods but also get to taste your favourite treats and aren’t left feeling deprived. Going back for seconds and thirds is okay, just be sure to keep up the 50/50 rule. Chew your food slowly to give your stomach time to signal to your brain that you are satisfied and focus on the conversation…not just the food!
# 4 Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol not only stimulates appetite, it also lowers your natural inhibitions, making you more likely to overeat and to consume less healthy foods. If you drink alcohol, try to stick to wine, liquor with a low-sugar mixer or beer. The high sugar content of liqueurs, eggnogs and coolers will put you on a blood sugar rollercoaster, which can intensify junk food cravings. Also, practice moderation, as researchers have found that while one alcoholic beverage will have little-to-no effect on your appetite, four units of alcohol will substantially increase your energy intake[i].
# 5 Indulge and Enjoy
Living healthfully is not about deprivation; it’s about moderation and balance. So go ahead and consume your favourite holiday foods. When you indulge, enjoy every moment of it! Don’t allow feelings of guilt to enter the equation – the occasional overindulgence will not harm your health. On the contrary, it will help you stick to your healthy lifestyle by preventing the feelings of deprivation that can lead to binge eating and to ‘quitting’ your healthy lifestyle regime altogether.
# 6 Balance it Out
Ever had the thought “Since I already ruined my healthy plans (by overeating, eating foods you deem unhealthy, skipping the gym etc.), I might as well do it again today.” This is a common, self-sabotaging message we tell ourselves that can seriously undermine our health efforts. Instead of adopting this mentality, make an effort to do the opposite and be extra healthy on non-holiday days. When you do indulge, you can tell yourself “I’ve been nourishing my body all week, a few holiday treats won’t hurt me.”