Cookies and Chocolates and Wine, Oh My! How to Navigate the Obstacle Course that is the Holiday Party

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You show up at the Christmas party feeling fabulous, looking glamourous, excited for the evening to come. Ready to let loose and have some fun! Except you really don’t want to end up bloated and full and having eaten too much at the end of the night.

There seem to be two kinds of Christmas parties, there is the sit down affair where they bring you your meal and then you’re done. No buffet tables of desserts to gorge on for the rest of the night, no trays of appetizers circling the room. Then there are those other affairs, you know, the ones with trays of sweet treats with icing and sprinkles, the appetizers with cheese and bacon and who knows what else, the egg nog, the champagne, the wine. What are you going to do about those?

If only we had someone to slap the cookie out of your hand when you’ve gone to far, but in lieu of having your own personal food police, I’ve put together a few tips to help you handle those tricky situations that can have you reaching for that second (or third!) shortbread.

Get moving and fit in some exercise the day of your Christmas party. It’s going to get  your metabolism going, make you feel great, healthy, and remind you why you eat what you are doing this for – which is to feel good and be fit and healthy – and why you don’t want to stuff yourself with all those treats. See my previous post for tips on fitting in fitness.

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Be selective about what you do eat. You are going to encounter a LOT of food this holiday season, some stuff you love, some stuff you don’t, some stuff you’ve never really seen before – instead of going for a little bit of everything go for the things you know you really love or the ones that look way too good to pass up. If you try something and you don’t really like it, leave it on your plate. Why eat something you don’t enjoy?

Veggies are always a great option, load up on them and eat them first, take small portions of the other stuff, chances are you will feel full and satisfied once you’re done and if not, then you can go back for a little bit more of your favourite. Really listen to your body and stop once you feel full you don’t want to eat too much and be the one laying on the couch with a major tummy ache because you couldn’t resist the last of the stuffing.

If you are going to a Christmas gathering and you don’t know what kind of food is going to be there, eat before you go so you’re not ravenous and more likely to make poor food decisions, it’s a lot harder for me to be objective about what I’m eating when my tummy is a grumbling even if I know it will result in a full on tummy ache. Without the pressing hunger it will be easier to make smart food choices.

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Alcohol is not your friend. Sure it’s fun and tantalizing, always promising good times and adventure, a little bit of social lubricant to help you loosen up, but have one to many of these bad boys and you’re swinging from the rafters, grabbing a big mac on your way home and sleeping through your am workout alarm. In short, alcohol is like a one-night stand, fun at the time but maybe doesn’t seem like such a great idea the next day, especially if you’re hit with a mega hangover. Not to mention alcohol slows down your metabolism and eases your judgement.

I’m sure you’ve heard it all before but the best thing you can do when you are out drinking is to have a glass of water in between drinks, to help stay hydrated and drink less. A great idea I heard was to water your drinks down with sparkling water, then you can drink just as much, stay hydrated and nobody but you will know the difference. Or get your drink in a tall glass with extra beverage and less alcohol. My favourite drink these days is sparkling wine with sparkling water it’s a great way to add that glass of water in without having to think about it. Try and stick to wine and champagne, or spirits with soda water and lemon, stay away from beer – it will only make you feel bloated. Sweet cocktails are loaded with unwanted calories.

Position yourself away from the food. Sometimes we have a tendency to gather around the food, it can be a great place to chat people up but makes it way to easy to mindlessly eat what’s in front of you. Go to another room or stand in the far corner to where the food is being served, I always say out of sight out of mind. When in doubt, get up on the dance floor!

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Finally, focus on the people. We are here to celebrate and have fun and be with the people we love (or work with, which ever it may be). Make conversation, get to know someone new or catch up with your uncle you haven’t seen in years.  Instead of making a bee-line to the dessert table, bee-line over to someone standing alone in a corner, introduce yourself, see if you have any common ground. It’s the holidays, spread the love.

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