Ask a Trainer: Healthy holiday party hacks

The best thing to do is to prepare ahead of time.

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  • | 5:13 a.m. November 19, 2015
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Q: Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to eat too much at the holiday parties. And every year I fall into the same trap of eating too much at the parties! Help me stop! – Julie S.

A: We hear this a lot, Julie, and I’ve struggled with it myself! This is the time of year when the really good food is put out and our social calendar fills up. And, unfortunately, so does our waistline. Those hors d’oeuvre trays strategically spread throughout the party are so deceiving with the tiny little helpings. But most of them pack a big caloric punch! “I’ll just have a few,” you say. And after a few it’s, “I’ll just have one more.” After several “one mores” you realize that your belt fits just a bit tighter and you’ve blown your caloric budget.

After swearing that you won’t do it at the next holiday party, but continuing the mistaken overindulgence at a few more parties you notice that your pants aren’t just fitting tighter after the parties anymore. Now their fitting tighter before the parties! With several more parties still on the social docket, we justify that this is the way the holiday season goes and we commit to turning things around in January.

So, back to your question, Julie. What are some things that we can do to avoid that spiral and make January an opportunity to get ahead with some of our goals, instead of correcting our overindulgences during the holidays?

The best thing to do is to prepare ahead of time. Since we already know that these parties are going to be strewn with rich, calorically dense foods, eat a healthy meal before going to the party. By eating some chicken breast, vegetable and some complex carbs you won’t be hungry when you get to the party and will be less likely to want to pick at the food. Also, drink a lot of water before and during the party. Water will also help fill you up and deter you from filling up on figgy pudding. Drinking more water will also help slow your alcohol consumption, which is another empty calorie contributor.

If you’re unable to eat before the parties, opt for the vegetable trays without the dips. The vegetable trays can be one of the most deceiving culprits, since they rarely use low calorie dressings and dips. They make you think that you’re eating healthy, when they’re secretly helping you pack on the pounds. So ditch the dips and stick with just the veggies.

Scheduling dinner for after the party is another great way to control what you eat at the party. Pick a time that you’ll leave the party for dinner or make reservations at a restaurant. Since you have scheduled dinner plans, you’ll be less likely to overeat and circle the snack trays. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat anything at the party, but why ruin your appetite before you dinner plans?

Just these few ideas will help keep you away from those tiny little snacks that pack such a powerful caloric punch. Your waistline will thank you in January, but you may have to get a little more creative with your New Year’s Resolution this year!

Patrick McGaha Jr., member experience manager at Anytime Fitness, Winter Park, is dedicated to building a welcoming environment in the club, conducive to helping members and clients reach their health fitness goals. To get your fitness and nutrition related questions answered by a certified personal trainer, or for a free personal training session, call us at 321-972-5833 or email [email protected].