Eating healthy can seem like a much bigger challenge over the Christmas season, especially if you’ve been invited to parties and are worried that the food on offer will ruin your healthy eating efforts.
Party food can be super tempting and it can derail all of your good intentions but here’s the good news: you’re much more in control than you might think and there’s plenty you can do to stay on track and still have fun.
Get plenty of sleep
On paper, you might not think that the amount of sleep you get the night before will matter too much. In reality, a bad night’s sleep can mean that you eat hundreds more calories more the next day. And that’s bad news if you want to avoid calorie heavy and unhealthy party food!
Try to get an early night before parties and you can cut out the potential for overeating.
Don’t turn up hungry at parties
If you’re tempted to eat little (or nothing!) before you go out this holiday season, think again! You might assume you’ll be “saving” your calories for later but you’re more likely to be giving yourself the green light to eat a lot more than you intended.
If you’ve ever found yourself picking up junk food in the supermarket while shopping hungry, you’ll know the negative impact it can have on your food choices. And this is why you don’t want to show up to parties on an empty stomach either.
It’s fine to leave a bit of room for festive food but you definitely don’t want to be ravenous when you turn up. This is a surefire recipe for wanting to eat everything in sight!
Eating a filling snack around 20 to 30 minutes before you leave home can be super helpful for stopping you snacking at the party. Choose something that is low in carbs such as boiled eggs or healthy protein balls.
Don’t restrict yourself
Tempted to eat less or work out more in the run-up to a party? This can work against you as you’re more likely to overeat when you get there. You’re usually better off sticking to your normal eating and fitness plans and trying to make good food choices.
Go for healthier options
If there’s a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy choices at the buffet table, it’s the perfect opportunity to make sure that you can enjoy some guilt-free party foods.
Spot some crudites? Grab a handful. They’ll help to fill you up and won’t pile on the calories. Just make sure that you don’t dunk them in high-calorie dips that are also likely to be loaded with fat too. Guacamole or hummus are good choices but most other dips will be a calorie bomb.
Research suggests that you’ll eat more calories on your first trip to the buffet table so you can do yourself a big favour if you go for healthier and low-calorie options then.
It takes around 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that you’re full. In that time, you could easily have eaten the equivalent of a meal without even thinking about it.
Taking a more mindful approach to your eating can help to avoid this. To start things off, go for small helpings of the party food you fancy and really savor eating them. Small bites and chewing your food thoroughly can be super helpful for this.
When you’re done, distract yourself for a bit. Work the room and get talking to other party guests to stop mindless snacking and check in with yourself 20 minutes later to see if you’re really still hungry. Chances are, you’ll find that you’re not.
Don’t forget about liquid calories
It’s not just what you put on your plate that you need to think about – liquid calories also count and they can add up more than you think. Alcohol and soft drinks are empty calories and don’t add nutritional value at all. That’s not to say that you can’t drink – just be mindful of what you drink and what it’s contributing in terms of calories, sugars and so on.
Try drinking a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks in particular to pace yourself and keep yourself hydrated. That way, you can still have a tipple but you’re not going to go overboard.
Sit away from the buffet
Really don’t trust yourself not to keep making trips to the buffet? Position yourself so that you’re not standing anywhere near it…
If the food is within reach, there’s so much more potential for mindless snacking even when you’re not at all hungry. The further away you are, the more you have to make a conscious decision to walk over to the buffet.