The party season has begun. Actually, it began on Halloween and has just been moving right along, with an uptick during the Thanksgiving weekend; it is now in full swing. Are you one of those who says, “I give up. I am not going to even try to maintain my weight. Just too many parties now, and I don’t want to miss out on anything.”
With that attitude, of course you will gain weight. Maintaining is out of the question. And you will undoubtedly make the same New Year’s resolution to get those unwanted pounds off–the broken record of millions of people. Without a plan, gaining weight will happen for sure. While the average weight gain over the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is 1-2 pounds (kept at bay, perhaps, from all the walking you do while shopping!), at least 10 percent of the population will gain 5 or more pounds.
If you want to be in the former group or, better yet, in the group that does not gain any weight, then you need a plan for managing the parties during this time. Here are five tips to help you.
TIP #1: Decide that you do not have to attend every party. Pick and choose–some may be politically necessary, if you know what I mean. This writer used to attend anywhere from five to ten parties. No more–the limit now is two or three, at the most. If you must attend, make an appearance, and keep your eating to the absolute minimum.
TIP #2: Before you go to a party, drink 1-2 glasses of water. When you get there, drink another glass. Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink (if you do drink), as those are about the most useless calories you will consume. Plus, if you are only there a little bit, you do not want to be driving after drinking. (It takes up to 90 minutes for a 4-oz drink to clear your system.) If you like eggnog, keep in mind that there are 343 calories in one cup of eggnog, 19 grams of fat (11.3 grams of which is saturated–the bad stuff), and 21.4 grams of sugar. Clogged arteries, here we come! If you are asked to bring something, why not make it something on the healthy side?
TIP #3: For the 2-3 days before the party, add an additional 20-30 minutes to your daily exercise routine. The party season is not the time to forego your exercising. If anything, you ought to be beefing it up.
TIP #4: Load your plate with the fresh veggies and protein. While there may be five desserts, you do not need to eat all of them. Pick one or two, and just eat half of them–basically two to four small bites. That is just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. Be extra careful of all the finger foods, especially the salty ones and dips.
TIP #5: Do NOT go back for seconds. Focus on talking to people. Stay away from the food table. The same food will be at the next party anyway. So you are not missing out on anything. Nurse that food for as long as possible. Take a bite, then talk. Focus on the communications with all the guests. If you have not eaten anything prior to the party, eat an apple–that will fill you up quite a bit.
Using a little common sense and modifying your party eating habits a little will spell success come New Year’s Day, with no more than a one- or two-pound gain, if that. Better yet, if you remain vigilant throughout the party season, there is no reason why you should not be able to maintain or even lose some weight.
Not sure that what you are consuming at parties is too much? Once or twice a week during the holiday season, try on a pair of pants that fit you just fine. If they start to feel snug, you know to back off the party food. But keep in mind that by then, you have probably put on an extra five pounds.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER PARTY FOOD: Finally, if you are the one giving the party and there is leftover food, try to get some of your guests to take home as much as possible. If you still have more leftovers, give them away to your local fire station or homeless shelter. If those are not viable options for you, then freeze the healthy stuff (if it can be frozen) and toss the rest into the garbage.
FOR THOSE IN ALBUQUERQUE: One place where you can take leftovers is to the gate guards at Kirtland AFB here in Albuquerque. The young military men and women really love the gesture, especially if they are having to stand guard in inclimate weather. And they are really appreciative if they have had to pull a double shift.