Navigating the Holidays

Holiday Table

The holidays are upon us! I absolutely love getting in the festive spirit by decorating our home, belting Christmas carols, and spending time with friends and family. Plus, the parties! This season of course means lots of gatherings with yummy food and drink.  

I don't know about you, but I've been on the party circuit since Thanksgiving weekend - with many more on the horizon. To help you navigate it all, I've put together a list of tips and tricks that I personally use to stay balanced amongst all the cookies and cocktails. Living Well this time of year isn't about deprivation.  It's about setting yourself up for success before the party even starts!

Tips & Tricks for a Well Balanced Holiday Season

With late nights out and one too many drinks, it's hard to get to the gym some mornings. That being said, it's really important to get in a good sweat session the morning of your party to counterbalance the indulgences. I also try to add 10-15 extra minutes to my normal exercise routine this time of year.  

A lot of times we confuse thirst with hunger. We're also more likely to get dehydrated from consuming extra sugary treats and alcohol. I sip water throughout the day and usually have a big glass upon waking to kickstart my system and hydrate from the night before.  

Don't show-up hungry.
Never starve yourself before a party or dinner thinking you're "saving-up" calories. If you do, you'll be absolutely ravenous and devour the first puff pastry wrapped hotdog that crosses your path. Instead, have a small snack such as a handful of nuts, veggies and hummus, or fruit and yogurt. This way, you can casually navigate the scene upon arrival and choose what you really want to eat.  Which leads me to my next point...

Have a plan of attack.
I always try to have a game plan before arriving. For example, if I know we're going to my aunt's house and there will be Rosemary Lee's famous rum cake, you better believe I'll have a small slice. But, because I want that particular cake, I'll avoid the other desserts and go easier on other heavy foods.  

Also, when I arrive at party, I do one full round before picking up a plate and committing. This way, you can see what's available, choose exactly what you're craving, and avoid the rest. I try to fill my plate with as many vegetables as possible (at least 2/3) and then leave the rest open for the more festive fare. 

Bring the veggies.
If the host has asked you to bring something, set yourself up for success by bringing a hearty salad (like one of these!) or other vegetable side. This way you're sure there is at least one veggie heavy option to load on your plate.  

Avoid the eggnog.
Part of the holidays is imbibing, and while I don't deny myself a glass or wine (or two), I avoid the sugar laden punches and rich eggnog. 

Step away from the buffet.  
Holiday gatherings are about just that GATHERING - spending time with loved ones and catching up. Find a spot away from the buffet to chat with your colleague or cousin.  It will help you avoid mindless munching.

Savor everything.
The holidays come around once a year, so have some secret recipe cheeseball (my Midwestern roots!) or slice of rum cake, but eat it slowly and enjoy it. We tend to overeat this time of year because we feel we have to get our share now before it's gone.  "It's going to be another whole year before I can have this again!" But I promise, if you actually take the time to taste and savor your favorite treats, you'll be more satisfied with less of them.  

And lastly - Don't beat yourself up.
If you do eat those extra cookies or have one too many drinks, please, be kind to yourself.  It is the holidays after all.