The holiday season is nearly upon us, and with it comes lots of gatherings with family and friends. Often, people focus on how to avoid overeating on Thanksgiving and Christmas. But it’s the endless parade of cocktail parties up to and including New Year's that often derails your medical weight loss efforts. Avoiding parties isn’t the answer; managing them is. Here’s how to keep the fun and lose the guilt this holiday season.
- Pick your battles: There’s nothing wrong with enjoying something delicious at a cocktail party. It just needs to be in moderation. This requires choosing what you want to eat and then savoring it! Here’s a quick rule to help keep you in control. Decide to eat just one each of:
1) One hot hors d’oeuvre.
2) One cold hors d’oeuvre.
3) One sweet treat.
The beauty of cocktail parties is that the portion sizes are usually small, so focus on choosing a cocktail-sized portion from each category that you’re really going to enjoy. And if you don’t see anything that looks worth the calories, don’t eat it!
- Keep your distance: If you’re looking to eat less, don’t look! Research shows the more visible food is, the more likely you’re going to eat it—and eat lots of it. Once you’ve chosen which three hors d’oeuvres you’re going to have, stick to the middle of the room, far from the food table, and from any tempting snacks on other cocktail tables. If there are passed hors d’oeuvres, step aside and let them pass you by, keeping your eyes where they should be: on the person you’re talking to.
- Know your drink: It’s easy to concentrate on not overeating at a cocktail party, but what about liquid calories? Just two fruity alcoholic drinks at a cocktail party can pile on 800 calories or more. A simple solution is to stick to a one-drink maximum, and make that drink a glass of wine, a light beer, or a spirit mixed with diet soda or tonic water. Sip slowly, and drink water before and after.
- Sip before you go: This is a twist on the traditional ‘eat before you go’ logic. Of course, going to a cocktail party on an empty stomach is ill-advised, but eating a meal may not be the best solution, either. The reason? We don’t eat just out of hunger! The risk is that when you’re faced with all the food at a cocktail party, you’ll eat there, too. A better choice is to sip some broth-based or tomato soup before the party. Research shows liquid eaten with a spoon fills you up and leads to fewer calories consumed later. A cup of most broth-based or tomato soups are less than 150 calories: perfect to take the edge off but still let you enjoy some cocktail treats.
The simple bottom line: Focus on people, not food. Parties are for spending time with people you enjoy and celebrating the season. Have a plan ahead of time, stick with it, and relax and enjoy the party!
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