Her recollection sounded more like a sci-fi movie than a festive occasion.
“I stuck with turkey, Brussels sprouts, and okay, maybe a little stuffing,” she began, recalling last Thanksgiving dinner. “Then my mother-in-law brought out her famous pecan-pumpkin cheesecake. One slice became my undoing. I reached for a second slice, and, well, the rest of the evening, I found myself in the kitchen engulfing every leftover I could get my hands on.”
What is it about the holidays that automatically give us permission to succumb to a never-ending sugar orgy? Every day from Thanksgiving through December’s end becomes a special occasion to indulge, from your receptionist’s freshly baked gingerbread cookies (you’ve got to try one to be nice, right?) to a sugar-and-alcohol-soaked New Year’s Eve fiasco.
Gather control now, not on New Year’s Day.
You needn’t become antisocial and hibernate watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the zillionth time to avoid dietary catastrophes. Employ these seven fat loss tips at your next social function and you’ll sail through the holidays feeling lean and healthy even when everyone else nose-dives into the Dulce de Leche Layer Cake.
7 Fat Loss Tips During the Holidays
1. Eat before you go
Remember the last dinner party that started on time? Me either. You arrive hungrily, have a glass of pinot noir, and before you know it – famished and semi-inebriated – you polish off three petit quiche pastries.
Avoid that inevitable regret by eating before you arrive so you’re pleasantly full but not stuffed and can make friends, not food, your focal point. Before any social function, I whip up a protein shake with vegan (but not soy) protein powder, raspberries, raw kale, freshly ground flaxseed, and unsweetened coconut milk to stay full and focused until dinner arrives. (Even when dinner is two hours late.)
2. Meet your sleep quota
Your calendar’s filled with parties, soirees, shopping, and other festivities. Who has time to sleep? You do. Besides making you a caffeinated Scrooge, one study found a single night of crappy sleep increases your risk for insulin resistance and diabetes.
Turn off electronics (yes, even your iPhone) and prepare for sleep with a hot bath, chamomile tea, and maybe a trashy novel. Get seven – but aim for nine – hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep.
Related: 7 Ways to Have More Energy All Day
3. Bring your own (but don’t make a big deal about it)
“Oh, let me help,” I tell family and friends during the holidays, allowing me to slip in one healthy dish among their sugar-filled fiestas. I set it among the other dishes, never pointing out how healthy it is because we all know “that person”: she makes a big deal about her lettuce being organic and her homemade bread is gluten-free. Annoying, right?
Over-emphasizing healthy makes people run the other way. Create a fabulous (but healthy!) dish, put it among the other foods, and watch it disappear. Trust me: dinner guests will appreciate your sautéed Brussels sprouts rather than another green bean casserole.
Related: 37 Superfoods to Start Eating Today
4. Balance your blood sugar
You know the scenario: you have pecan maple French toast and mimosas for brunch, and suddenly a splurge meal becomes a splurge day, triggering a roller coaster of blood sugar spikes and crashes that leave you hungry, craving sugar, and gaining weight.
Keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day with lean protein, healthy goods, lots of leafy and cruciferous veggies, and slow-release high-fiber carbs. If you’re saving up for a big dinner party, have protein shakes all day so you stay full without blood sugar crashes.
Related: 7 Steps to Fat Loss
5. Observe my 3-bite rule
So your aunt makes her fabulous hazelnut and chocolate meringue cake and you’re obliged to try it or you’ll get a guilt trip. That doesn’t give you permission to devour a gargantuan slice. Rather, occasionally have three small bites – bites you would eat on live TV, not in the privacy of your kitchen – and put your fork away. Emphasis on occasional: every baked goods event and eggnog soiree does not automatically give you permission to indulge.
6. Watch your alcohol
If you drink, you know the scenario: a second glass of pinot noir drains every last ounce of good judgment and next thing you know, you’re reaching for a second serving of pumpkin pecan bread pudding.
Create alcohol rules before your party. If possible, imbibe after dinner rather than on an empty stomach. Two glasses of water for every drink. And keep it to wine or tequila. Eggnog and other sugary alcoholic beverages are a surefire strategy to not get into your skinny jeans the next morning.
Related: 7 Benefits of Red Wine
7. Remember the big picture
I had a friend who bought a final sale, non-returnable silk Jil Sander dress for her New Year’s party. “I can’t afford to fit into this dress,” she joked. That dress made her think twice at parties about reaching for anything that would sabotage her efforts. (Guys, you can do the same thing with slim-fit jeans.) Don’t let the ephemeral siren call of a chocolate éclair derail your efforts to look lean and spectacular come New Year’s Eve.
Featured photo by stevendepolo