December brings a sense of urgency, some stress and also fun times to see friends and spend time with family. Our society tends to celebrate with food (and often drink) smack in the middle of it all. Holiday parties are notorious for finger foods filled with high-glycemic carbohydrates and unhealthy fats.
Below are a few tips on how to navigate your way through the holiday parties, open houses, buffets and busy, run-off-the-feet days.
Skip the following appetizers:
Dips. Skip the creamy, cheesy dips and opt for fresh salsa, yogurt, or try yogourt cheese instead.
Cocktail franks and mini-meatballs. Neither is a good source of lean protein and both can pack a big serving of calories and sodium. Choose peel-and-eat shrimp or sushi instead.
Anything fried. From mini-eggrolls and quiche to chicken wings, deep-fried foods contain altered fats that are detrimental to the body. Whole grain crackers and a small slice of low-fat cheese can satisfy a savory craving with far fewer calories and fat.
Foie gras. Its controversial origins aside, foie gras is a high-fat spread that has little nutritional benefit. Give it a pass and choose hummus instead - an animal-friendly source of soluble fiber.
Ideas of some healthier choices:
Crudit�s. The fiber in veggies will help fill you up, and they provide a nice, satisfying crunch. Choose a spectrum of colors (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are good choices) and serve with low- or non-fat plain yogurt. Add some fresh herbs and seasonings for flavor.
Mixed nuts. When eaten sparingly, nuts are a terrific snack. Walnuts are a favorite, as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds and roasted soy nuts are also good choices. Nuts can be high in calories and fat (even if it's the healthy monounsaturated kind) so don't overindulge.
Smoked salmon. Salmon (especially wild Alaskan sockeye salmon) provides omega-3 fatty acids, the anti-inflammatory, essential fats our bodies need for optimum health.
One of the best pieces of advice you can follow is the Scout and Girl Guide motto of "Be Prepared!" Have plenty of food already prepared and have your menu plans. You will be busy and you don't want to get caught having to pick up something high in fat and sugar to get you through a missed meal or two.
Eat before you go to a party or get together. That way, you won't feel the need to head straight to the appy table. When hungry and with low blood sugar levels, one tends to have eyes bigger than their stomach AND they start to crave the high fat, high sugar foods.
If you are drinking alcohol, have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink. Eat some protein to help combat the sugar high which usually accompanies drinking alcohol. Remember, have a safe ride home too! A good point to remember: the mind does not feel 'full' on liquid calories, so be careful in your choice of drinks and don't pack in too many calories by choosing egg nog or creamy type drinks.
If you are indulging, keep track! With all the parties planned you want to keep track of how much you are eating that is not considered healthy or clean eating. Did you know that on average, most people will gain up to 6 pounds during this holiday period! That's quite a bit of damage to correct. So, the longer you take to get back to the gym, or back to working out and eating healthier, the harder it will be to lose that unwanted body fat gain.