Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years are the big three when it comes to heavy partying and potentially putting a dent in your dieting initiatives. All the dinner, office and house parties are exciting and a great break from the grind, but these events are rife with opportunities to sneak in little harmless cheats. We asked registered dietitian Leah Kaufman about the most common slip-ups we make at holiday gatherings and just how bad those innocent little indulgences can be. She also offered us tips on how to stay on track.
Partying on an empty stomach
"Drinking decreases all inhibitions leading to bad food choices," says Kaufman. If you're already hungry, after a few cold ones, your stomach will be growling and your decision-making process will be muddied. Heading out the door with your gas tank on empty is asking for trouble. You'll be fighting the urge to fill the bottomless pit with anything you get your hands on. How to compensate Eating something small is a smart strategy before getting into party mode. "Aim for a snack filled with soluble fiber, which takes longer to digest," Kaufman says. She recommends having an apple or nuts as a pre-drink snack.
Neglecting your important food groups
"Holiday parties aren't known to have the healthiest options, therefore you should make an effort to get most of your vitamins and minerals in before the big party," Kaufman advises. Skipping foods like fruits and vegetables leave you more vulnerable to cravings and overindulging on the bad stuff. How to compensate Kaufman recommends making an effort to have a vegetable or fruit-filled breakfast, lunch and snacks before party time. She says, "Don't go all day without having a piece of fruit or vegetables."
Bailing on workouts
Everything seems to speed up during the holidays, and it always feels like you're scrapping for time. Skipping one workout can easily slip into the next day, then the next. Before you know it, you've taken the entire week off. How many calories are left unburned? How to compensate Kaufman strongly believes in making an effort to get to the gym before work or your parties. "You'll feel better about having that holiday cookie the night before."
4. Pounding the eggnog
What's a holiday party if the eggnog isn't flowing? If you're one to get all liquored-up on the sweet stuff, keep in mind, "A glass of traditional eggnog contains approximately 350 calories and 19.1 grams of fat," Kaufman says. Two to three glasses of those and you've got the caloric equivalent of three meals. How to compensate If you can't go without the deliciousness of eggnog, Kaufman suggests you "just taking a sip for taste. Then opt for a glass of wine or vodka on the rocks, saving yourself 250 calories and 19 grams of fat."
5. Posting up at the cheese platter
Holiday platters are always laying around, tempting everyone from arm's length to across the room. An assortment of cheese, naturally higher in fat and calories, could derail you in no time when you've mindlessly consumed the equivalent of an entire log of cheese. How to compensate Portion control is your only hope, but it can be done. "Remember, one portion of cheese is the size of about your thumb or two dice," Kaufman says.