The holidays are upon us. As I hear people planning their bikini-clad, sunny vacations, I also hear them talking about the myriad of upcoming dinners, parties and all of those great recipes they have for their big family meals. Not until about half way through the season do people usually realize that the calories are adding up. Well, it’s not their fault. Who could resist, with all of the holiday gift baskets, popcorn tins, steak of the month clubs, sprinkled holiday cookies, parties and general festivities.
That, combined with the cold temperatures and fear of leaving the house can be a recipe for disaster! The good news is that in the nick of time you can start planning ahead with the assured preparedness of a boy scout. The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. This is not the time to have aspirations of losing massive amounts of weight, but rather a time to teach yourself how to manage under the most difficult circumstances and still come out on the other side with your jeans none-the-tighter.
Using simple holiday “calorie-spending” rules, you can participate in the festivities of the season, attend everything you’re invited to, dip into those office holiday gift tins and still fit into your bikini come January 2nd.
Here are my holiday healthy rules…
Taste everything, eat nothing. Although chocolate, eggnog, turkey and stuffing are all delicious, you’ve had it before and you will have it again. None of this is revolutionary stuff that you would have to cross the globe to gain access to again. At holiday meals, put a little bit of everything that you love on your plate, do that only once, and try a little bit of everything. People always say to stay away from stuffing and gravy and all of the good stuff. Well, that is simply cruel and unrealistic. I am never afraid of any restaurants or any food situation because I exhibit self-control. Decide which holiday foods you really must have. Make your choices, sit down, taste them all and then stop the madness. There will be another holiday meal. This may seem difficult but it becomes an utterly liberating rule, allowing you to participate without compromising your waistline.
Spoil your appetite. Go against everything your parents ever told you about ruining your appetite. When going to a dinner or a cocktail party, nothing in the world is better than not having a huge appetite. Choose 200 calorie sensible snacks. A slice of whole grain bread with turkey, a handful of raw nuts and dried fruits, edamame (soybeans), hummus with whole grain crackers, a bowl of soup, or yogurt with low fat granola are some excellent examples. Just be sure that it is a snack that includes some protein. This investment of 200 calories will save you hundreds of calories from ravenously consuming hors d’oeuvres from a tray or grabbing from the bread basket out of voracious hunger.
Manage your alcohol consumption. Drink only two drinks and stick to clear alcohol such as vodka or white tequila. To make it interesting, try flavored vodkas and add squeezed lemon or lime. If, like me, you must have a bit of sweetness, have a skinny girl’s margarita: clear tequila, fresh lime juice and the tiniest splash of triple sec. You can even do the same tiny splash with vodka. Also, drink water in between drinks. If hard alcohol does not appeal to you, drink red or white wine. The downfall of wine is that it tends to be sweeter and hit you harder. Wine will also make you hungrier the next day.
Be prepared and have a plan. When going out or sitting around near the office treats, decide what you must have and stick to that. Always go for the lesser of evils. If you must have chocolate, have dark chocolate for the antioxidants and mix it with a few nuts so that the protein from the nuts balances the sugar. This will keep your blood sugar balanced. If you are having a sweet snack during the day, then skip dessert at night. Pick your battles and decide what is really important.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself. This is the most important rule! Do not go into the holidays with the mentality that you will eat and drink what you want and deal with it after the New Year. First of all, why be so predictable, falling into that same bear trap as everyone else? But more importantly, statistics prove that most of those people never take the weight off. We are busy beings and there is always another event and a rationale for eating and drinking. If you are mindful during the holidays, you will not have anything looming over you in January, and you will still have been able to enjoy all that the holidays have to offer.
Wear fitted clothing. Winter clothing can be very bulky, hide a multitude of sins and also leaves room for too much indulgence. Very rarely when I wear a little black dress or a fitted pair of jeans do I feel comfortable shoving food into my mouth indiscriminately. During the work day, keep your waistline somewhat fitted, because you will spend the afternoon feeling uncomfortable at your desk, should you overindulge at lunch.
Remember that your diet is a bank account. Just as you need to manage your holiday shopping budget, you also have to manage your calorie intake.
For some of Bethenny Frankel’s healthy recipes, including some of her celebrity clients’ favorite recipes, visit www.bethennybakes.com.