Remember, holidays and celebrations of all sorts come every year and all year long like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. That’s a lot of food and drink that might not be good for you.
You need to be prepared to handle them wisely.
• Do not allow parties to be your license to overeat. Instead it is a time to socialize and visit. Make a point to talk to nearly everyone and eat less.
• Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch before attending a party later in the day.
• You cannot skip meals or “bank” calories from previous meals. You don’t want to feel uncomfortable after eating too much or eating the wrong kinds of food at a party.
• li you are not sure there will be foods at a party that you will be able to eat, bring some. Vegetable dishes, hummus, cottage cheese with fresh chopped herbs, fruit and cheese plates and sugar-free beverages are good choices.
• Surround yourself with people who are supportive or sit next to someone who follows a health-conscious diet.
• Be very selective of items you choose to eat. Look at the entire buffet before you start to eat. Be sure to select protein foods and those few items that are important to you. Do not waste calories on mashed potatoes, pasta and other foods that you can have any day.
• Leave some food uneaten on your plate. Dispose of it promptly.
• Do not linger at the table after eating. Help clean up, go for a walk or play with the children.
• Remember foods that need to be refrigerated cannot be left out for more than two hours. Do not be tempted by food left out all day at work.
• Practice being pleasantly assertive to hosts who insist that you have more to eat or drink. Find other ways to compliment your host: “Everything was so delicious, I can’t possible eat anymore. But I would love to have another cup of coffee.”
• Remember alcoholic beverages have significant calories and act as a depressant. Bring a diet beverage instead. Try diet lemonade with a slice of fruit.
• Eat very slowly, putting utensils down often. Be a good listener at a party and chew your food very well.
• When planning a party, do not prepare too much food. Be careful to give leftovers away to your guests.
• To set the right tone for a holiday, go for a walk or visit the gym before the day begins.
• Arrive late to a party or leave early to avoid eating improperly if necessary.
• Start a new tradition. Instead of a cookie swap, contact your local charity and plan to “adopt” a family for the holiday season with a basket of food or small gifts.
• Celebrate the season with activities such as singing in a choir, dancing or playing music at a party or planning a breakfast at a shelter.
• Know when party food is at work and bring in alternatives. Or catch the end of the party and only drink a low-calorie beverage.
• Keep a food and exercise log during the holiday season to become more aware of what you doing. Make a plan at the end of each day for the next day.
• Wear a pedometer and keep track of your steps. It can be very motivating as you gradually increase your steps week by week.
• Do not expect perfection but do expect to get right back on track as soon as possible by eating properly and exercising. Remember how much healthier you are!
Mary Noon is a registered dietician and nutritionist at Hartford Hospital. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call Hartford Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Counseling at 860.972.2604.