> a step-wise tutorial on exactly what to reach for and what to avoid as we enter into the throes of holiday parties
By Ellie Kempton of Simply Nourished
The holiday season embodies so much joy, community and nostalgia. But we know, all too well, that it also presents us with multiple opportunities to well... over indulge. Instead of building fear and angst around your pending soiree, consider taking a step back to intentionally plot your course [using the roadmap below] and I guarantee you’ll find a bit more confidence and subsequent comfort in your choices.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE:
Consider popping in a little punch of protein before you arrive. Chances are the party will serve lots of snack-friendly carbs but protein may be hard to come by. And it just so happens that protein will not only tame reactive decisions made around food but it also blunts the effect of alcohol on the liver. Here are a few simple ideas to choose from:
Prime the digestion with bitters. Taxation from the holidays takes a toll inevitably on the digestive system. Consider adding bitters to some water to stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes in a gentle manner.
WHAT TO GO FOR:
Once you’ve arrived at your holiday soiree follow this 1-2-3 sequence and you’ll be delightfully surprised by how easy it is to navigate:
Grab a glass of seltzer water with a spritz of lime. Starting a party hydrated is the best thing you can do to prevent overindulging, out of thirst or jumping into the alcohol too quickly. Once you’ve had one glass of water, oscillate between your alcoholic beverage of choice and water- you may just find you drink less but are still merry.
Be on the lookout for vegetables. Whether this is a formal sit-down dinner or a buffet of options, put your binoculars on for vegetables of any sort. Not only do vegetables contain natural enzymes, further supporting your digestion, but they also offer bundles of fiber, ensuring that you feel full before you are overstuffed.
Power back up on protein. Once you’ve sampled [or if you’re lucky, feasted!] on vegetables it’s high time to tackle protein again. Chances are the fanciful carbohydrate dish or sweet delicacies will be “tugging on your tastebuds” but kindly remind yourself that protein is the next “hoop to jump through” before intentionally reaching for carbohydrates. Once you have slowed down to enjoy your vegetables and powered through a bit more protein, you’ll have the satiety required to make judicious decisions about carbohydrates. Aim for no more than 1 “ ist" of carbohydrates while at the party noting that if you need more, its best to reach for fruit or root vegetables when you return home!
WHAT TO ENJOY IN MODERATION:
I've never been one to teach nutrition through the lens of binary rules. I adore the different hues of grey. [It happens to be permissive in all the right ways.] So if we’re going to talk moderation, both alcohol and sweets fit into this category:
Alcohol- keep a running tally of drinks. Space each one between 1-2 glasses of water for pacing and sip slowly, engaging most of your attention on the conversation and friendships.
Sweets- treats will abound at any holiday gathering. Once you’ve had your vegetables, and your protein, it’s time to scan the room for something that you will intentionally [not reactively] choose to savor. Chances are when you approach sweets with this degree of mindfullness, you’ll enjoy the treat more AND you’ll be able to slow down and even STOP if it’s not what you had hoped it to be. Having the capacity to do so is so empowering as you have just proven to be in the “driver seat” when it comes to sugar- the most powerful drug we have easy access to.
WHAT TO AVOID:
It turns out there ARE some sneaky stumbling blocks at holiday gatherings. Here are the top 2 foods to really remain cautious around [in general not just at holiday parties!]
Cocktails [esp. the sweet kind] - While they mask alcohol beautifully, they go down far too easily- giving your body the 1-2 punch of both alcohol AND sugar. Consider choosing a beverage that has no added sweetener such as a vodka tonic or a glass of wine to slow the pace AND avoid the residual sugar
Battered and/or fried foods- Alongside sugar, damaged fat is the other culprit of inflammation. It’s quite rare to find any fried food that is fried in high quality fat. So the best strategy is to avoid this altogether and opt for the baked foods devoid of any additives. If this is a plated meal, simply tell your server you are avoiding wheat as most battered foods are wheat rich. Obviously, wheat is not to be avoided 100% of the time [if you ARE tolerant] but it’s a simple strategy to avoid the true culprit: damaged fat
Take a step back, breathe deep and remember that holiday parties [while bursting at the seams with decisions] CAN be made simple. Walk in with the perspective that you have arrived to indulge in the WHOLE experience not just the overflowing supply of libations [or food]. I am confident you will feel empowered if you are able to walk away without having let reactive food choices get the best of you! Slow down. Tune in. And... Celebrate the holidays with GUSTO!