If you’re like most people, your work Christmas party is right around the corner. And, of course, we’ve all heard the stories about the guy who drank too much, or the girl who made a fool of herself, and maybe even got fired as a result. Christmas parties create an opportunity for most folks to eat too many addictive sugary foods that can start a cascade of indulgence that continues through the New Year. Since most people gain about a pound of fat during the holidays, it’s a good idea to be proactive about what and how you will eat during Christmas parties and family gatherings. So here are a few tips to keep in mind as we get into the thick (pun intended) of the holiday season.

1. Stay Hydrated. Drinking water is the first Healthy Habit we ask our clients to adopt. At a minimum, women should drink 8 glasses (64 oz.), and men should drink 12 glasses (128 oz.) of water every day. Drinking plenty of water will keep your stomach from being empty. But more importantly it will keep your brain and your liver functioning properly. Your liver helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Water is necessary for glycogen in your liver to be hydrolyzed and released as glucose in your blood. When you are dehydrated, this process can be sabotaged, resulting in a craving for sweets. Drink plenty of water before and during any holiday party or gathering. Also, if you’re drinking alcohol, always drink water with it. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which can quickly dehydrate you, possibly resulting in a hangover.

2. Put All Your Hors d’oeuvres On a Plate. “One, two, three, oh heck, I forget how many of those bacon wrapped dates I just had. But wow, look at the cheese ball!” Before the meal starts, you could easily woof down a couple thousand calories in appetizers. When the Hors d’oeuvres come out, put them on a small plate. When you’re finished with your plate, set it down and forget about the appetizers.

3. Stay Away From the Punch Bowl. Even if the host says there’s not much alcohol in it, most punches are really sweet. The sugar makes it almost impossible to gauge how much alcohol you’ve actually consumed. In no time, you can be drunk and buzzing on sugar and alcohol, not a good combination.

4. Pick Your Poison. It’s okay to have dessert at a holiday party, but if you’re going to have desert, make good choices about everything else you eat. Just choose one indulgence, not three or four. If you’re planning on having bread pudding, don’t eat deep fried wings, bread, and mac and cheese before the dessert.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep. Rest up the night before by getting at least 7 hours of sleep. A recent study found that after a short night’s sleep, adults ate about 300 extra calories and tended to choose higher-fat, higher-calorie foods. When women lose sleep they often feel less full after eating, while men tend to have an increased appetite. I know the holiday season places a demanding schedule on most of us, but try to do everything you can to get plenty of sleep between gatherings.

6. Take Smaller Bites. Take smaller sips or bites to trick your brain into eating 30 percent fewer calories. A recent study found that when you take nibbles, chew your food longer (at least 9 seconds), and eat slower, your brain thinks you’ve eaten more. So if you’re eating Crème Brule at Ruth’s Chris (680 calories) don’t woof it down: by taking smaller bites and eating slower, you could save about 204 calories by not eating the whole desert.

Hopefully some or all of these tips will help you get through the Christmas parties and the holiday gatherings without putting on extra pounds. Who knows, you may even lose a couple of pounds following this advise.

And remember to stay away from the photocopier!

Hope Everyone Has a Great Holiday Season!

Stay Strong,

Bo Railey

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