In the Healthy Mama Life Community, we're just jumping into my 7 Tips for a Healthier Holiday; and amongst those tips were some good tactics to use when you're approaching holiday parties, like planning your treats ahead of time (I suggest three a week, but whatever number you choose is up to you) and bringing your own dish to have a healthy option to share. But what I've never put together is my ultimate guide to holiday parties: how I approach holiday parties to stay healthy and feel good- that night and the day after. It's taken me years to find my healthy balance in such a busy season of parties and events, so I figured it was about time I shared with you. Consider this my Healthy Mama Holiday Party Survival Guide.
Before the party:
Plan your treats. Take a look at the week ahead and decide when you'll be eating at home and when you've been invited to events where you might have appetizers, desserts, or even a full meal. 'Eating extra' tends to be the biggest problem many of my clients have around the holidays. It may not be overeating at one particular party, but it's an extra cocktail hour here (drinks + appetizers you wouldn't normally have), 5 extra desserts a week, an extra cookie (or three) here and there-- that add up, and before you know it, you're consistently unintentionally overeating. THAT is where the holiday weight gain usually comes from. Planning ahead and deciding how you can use healthy tactics to avoid unintentional overeating can be helpful. Try eating dinner at home and just having a snack or two at the party; or choosing three treats a week: a tactic many of my clients find helpful to reel in the excess consumption without feeling deprived. You can have whatever you, whenever you want-- just three times a week. The rest of the time, choose the healthier options!
Stay well-hydrated. Most of us know that thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, so staying hydrated will not only keep the munchies at bay, but it can also reduce bloat from extra processed foods, help us avoid that alcohol getting to our head so quickly and keep us energized throughout the weeks of party hopping.
Snack first. Have a healthy snack (or even a full meal) packed with protein + fiber BEFORE the event, so you're less hungry and less willing to snack mindlessly.
Stay active. It was one of my simple ways to have a healthier holiday and it reigns true here, too. Staying active can help reduce that temptation to eat less healthy foods, if we know we've already treated our bodies well that day, why over-indulge in the evening?
During the party:
BYOD: that is, bring your own dish. When you bring the healthy option, you KNOW there will be a healthy option! No one will mind the delicious glistening kale salad with maple glazed pecans, cranberries and goat cheese, and you have a main dish for your healthy holiday meal.
Avoid or alternate the alcohol. We all know alcohol lowers inhibitions, that doesn't change around the holidays! And on top of that, alcoholic drinks, more often than not, are loaded with excess sugar that we just don't need-- any time of the year (not to mention the blood sugar crash later on, causing us to be ravenous sugar monsters!). So avoiding alcohol, or choosing just one glass of wine or beer, is always your best option. Love your wine? Alternate each glass of booze with a full glass of water. It won't lessen the effects of the alcohol, but it WILL slow you down, hopefully encouraging you to drink less and still have something to hold (to avoid mindless snacking).
Focus on protein + plants. No matter whether you're enjoying apps or having a full meal, focusing on protein and plants is ALWAYS the way to go to choosing a healthier option. Protein + the fiber in the veggies will keep you satiated and less likely to pick at the unhealthier fare.
Take one plate. Big holiday dinner? Grab your plate, fill it up with whatever you want, and eat. Eat slowly and savor each bite, until you're full. Then toss. that. plate. Allowing yourself seconds sets you up for overeating! Just have one plate. There will always be more food.
Choose a dessert tactic. Desserts can be the hardest for those of us with a sweet tooth! One of these will work for you (but probably not both). 1. Pick ONE treat. That's one cookie, one slice of pie or one piece of cake. Eat it, enjoy it, and move on. 2. Try the 'one bite rule'. Have a bite of whatever you want. If it's worth it, continue eating it. If not, move on. It might take 4-5 bites before you realize nothing is really worth it. Or, you might love the first cookie you taste. That's ok. Either way, It saves you from eating 4-5 whole desserts before feeling satisfied!
Remember: it's ok to say no. You will NOT offend Aunt Betsy when she asks you for the fourth time if you want seconds, another cookie, another glass of wine, etc (and if you do, sorry Aunt Betsy. You're trying to stay healthy and lean!). You're saying no for YOU- no one else.
After the party:
Move ON. Did you overindulge a little? Feeling a little extra full? Don't sweat it. Just move along. Tomorrow is a new day! The goal is to not make it a habit.
Drink some water. Staying hydrated counts here, too, especially if you've had some drinks or sodium-rich foods.
Did you imbibe? Take some activated charcoal (my favorite is the Bulletproof coconut charcoal). It will help absorb some of the alcohol and help aid your liver in processing it-- resulting in feeling MUCH better tomorrow.
Head home and get some REST. Even if it was a late night, rest is crucial! I know for mamas with little ones, getting extra rest seems near impossible, but the more rest you can get, the better, and I promise you will feel better for it.
Make your next meal healthy. There's no reason to 'detox' or even worse, skip a meal because you ate extra at a holiday party. We're looking for BALANCE, here. Your body needs nourishment! Enjoy a healthy meal next, and again- move on. You've got this, mama! Do you have tips to add to my healthy holiday survival guide? Post below and Happy Holiday celebrating!