Between the open bars, dessert buffets and restaurant-catered meals, it can feel as if there’s no choice but to skip out on the fun and RSVP “no” if staying on track is a priority.
In fact, holiday food and beverage stress is so common nutrition experts have solutions ready for it. Here, find five of their best strategies for staying social while prioritizing your goals:
HAVE AN ALCOHOL PLAN
“A few drinks can start a spiral of events that lead to more and more calories,” notes Scott Baptie, a sports nutritionist based in the UK. In addition to the calories from alcohol, if you get buzzed, you’re more likely to make less-nutritious food decisions, whether it’s overeating at the event or grabbing a pizza on the way home.That’s why going into a holiday gathering with an idea of what and how much you’re going to drink is key.
“Lower-calorie drinks like gin or vodka with bubbly water are the least detrimental choices,” says Baptie. “And if you’re worried about peer-pressure, stick with clear beverages. That way, you can switch to seltzer on ice and it will look the same.” Consider adding a slice of lemon or lime for more flavor.
TRY THE THREE-BITE STRATEGY
“Whether you’re at a holiday cookie swap or a cocktail party, there’s no need to feel deprived if your favorite dessert or the cheese plate is calling your name,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RD, author of “The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.” She recommends enjoying three decadent bites guilt-free. “After three bites, the novelty wears off and you can sample a few treats without overdoing it.”
TRY THE “TWO-FROM-FOUR” METHOD
This one works particularly well if you’re at a restaurant, so keep it in mind for any celebratory dinners you have coming up. Here’s how it works: “Your four choices are a starter, main course, dessert and an alcoholic drink,” explains Baptie. Two-from-four essentially means you can pick any two, and enjoy them to the fullest. “It’s a simple way to keep your calories in check while still being social.”
RESET YOUR PALATE
Once you’re in a pattern of eating, drinking and revelry, it can be tough to stop the momentum. “Bring gum, mints or a disposable toothbrush with you,” suggests Harris-Pincus. “When you’re done eating and feel moderately full, step away and freshen your breath. It’s a fabulous deterrent from mindless eating.”