Christmas and New Year are rolling around- Celebrations are times, we rejoice with our families and friends; where food plays an essential social role. Research says that the average American gain 5lb (2.3 kg) or more over the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day (New England Journal of Medicine, 2000).
Holiday weight gain in the US
The graph shows a 52% of annual weight gain during 12% of the year.
Apart from the nutrients food provides, it has a powerful social binding quality that keeps us close to our loved ones. Choosing your foods wisely during parties, could help you from overeating and from making unhealthy food choices.
How can we ‘fill our plates’ wisely?
Preparing your mind
First and foremost, we need to make up our minds that there are going to be a lot of temptations and a varied spread of food choices on the party menu. There is a tradeoff between your favorite foods served during a party and the thought of undesirable weight gain .With a good plan in mind; you do not have to fear about that ‘extra weight gain’ factor.
Let your ‘intuition’ work!
Our brain processes and sends signals to our body when you are hungry as well as when you are full. As we learn to respond to those signals and eat food accordingly, it becomes ‘intuitive eating’. Intuitive eating is the best way to control your food intake, as we decide the quantity and the type of food we consume.
No to pre-party ’starvation’
As you head from your home for attending a party, make sure you have had a mini snack high in proteins and carbohydrates like nuts or whole wheat crackers. It aids in reducing your food intake at the party as well as maintaining your energy levels throughout.
No to large plates and food towers
Choose a smaller plate (eg: salad plate) to get your food served. Make a conscious effort to avoid loading your plate with foods that immediately catches your attention on the buffet array. Avoid stacking food on the plate .It aids you with your portion control. Instead, take a few seconds to go through the healthy choices on the table and select them over a high calorie and high fat counterpart.
Go slow on every bite
The food on your plate need to be chewed well before ingestion. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to process the message that ‘you are full’. Therefore, the habit of eating slowly enjoying every bite can help you with lower chances of overeating not only during parties but also in your daily eating pattern.
Limit your calories
Dips and sauces give a lot of unwanted calories and fat, that can result in weight gain. Choose more salads, lean meats over refined breads or pastas, which give you more fiber and protein that keeps you filled.
Alcohol provides empty calories and tends to induce hunger. If you indulge in a drink, choose healthier options like red wine and limit the serving size to 1-2 standard drinks per day. Overconsumption of alcohol leads to weight gain.
Be the ‘Special Guest’!
Be a helping hand for the host by attending guests and serving them. Getting engaged with the guests through conversations, will give less time for you to sit and think about what to eat. It aids you with your weight maintenance goal.
Get plenty of proteins, fiber and water
Include fiber-rich fruits and vegetables in the form of salads onto your plate. Take plenty of water occasionally to remain hydrated and to curb the thought of overeating. Egg whites and lean meats are rich sources of protein, if included, makes you feel energized and full for long.
Go low on desserts
Desserts are visually tempting high calorie foods. Take them in moderation.
Stay away from the buffet table
Make your conversations and meetings away from the buffet table. Food has a visual appeal which when combined with a wonderful aroma becomes hard for some to resist a second helping.
A big ‘no’ to leftovers
During family gatherings, large quantities of leftovers remain after the party. At times, the party host might tell the guests to take a few foods home to prevent food wastage. Prepare yourself to avoid such situations wisely.
Last but not the least, a pre-party workout for 30 minutes would surely help you with your weight management objective.
The essence of celebrations is in spending time with friends and family. As the celebrations draw closer, you can definitely look good without feeling conscious about your weight gain, if you have put a preplanned effort in making healthy food choices in place.
Happy Healthy Celebrations ahead!
(New England Journal of Medicine, March 2000 issue)