Edited by Arielle Kamps (guest contributor)
Holidays are a time to gather with friends and family and celebrate. In multi-ethnic Singapore, this means lots of festivities, visiting people and admiring decorations. Dinner with friends and family, in particular, is a common event during this period – with many people toasting to one another’s health.
This celebratory mood can even distract some of the most focused, healthiest eaters. Temptation is everywhere, especially when the pantry is stocked full with goodies that can destroy any serious diet.
Rather than looking for various reasons to excuse yourself from the many dinners or parties you’ve been invited to, go ahead and enjoy yourself – but stick to the following tips so you can enjoy yourself and stick to your fitness goals at the same time.
Tip #1 – Fill your stomach first
Abstaining completely from festive snacks these can feel you leaving dissatisfied, possibly causing you to overeat at your next meal. So instead, ensure that you fill your stomach with healthy food before attending a party, to ensure that you take just one slice of cake there, and not three. Fiber-rich foods like vegetables and fruits can go a long way in controlling your hunger.
Even simple acts like drinking a glass or two of water before you start to eat can help to reduce weight gain. People tend to put on weight during the festive period, and drinking water can help to curb this, especially for older people.
Similarly, choose lean meat, which has fewer calories than dark meat or red meat, and top up your plate with plenty of vegetables to satisfy your hunger. Do yourself a favor by staying away from the snack table while at a party, and avoid popping bits of food into your mouth just because they happen to be there.
Tip #2 – Drink for your health, not to your health
Alcoholic drinks often contain hidden calories and sugar. Drinking just half a bottle of wine can increase your calorie intake by up to 250 calories! Furthermore, after having had a few drinks, you get dumb with your food decisions.
Alcohol can have a detrimental effect on your diet. As it does not satisfy hunger, and it affects the brain, alcohol can destroy your willpower to eat less. Drinking on an empty stomach, such as right before a meal, is even worse because an empty stomach increases the effects of alcohol and can make you eat more.
So the next time you’re at a party or hosting one, take your health into your own hands. You can choose a lower calorie drink, or mix your drink with a sugar-free type of mix.
Other ways to reduce your alcohol consumption include choosing water or a home-made fruit juice for every second drink, rather than something alcoholic. Just be careful because other drinks, such as juice, also contain calories and sugar, so try to choose low-calorie beverages when possible.
Although alcohol can add some fun to the party, it can be even more beneficial to avoid it altogether. If you are the host, try purchasing some alcohol-free drinks along with the usual favorites.
When you are at someone else’s party, do not feel uncomfortable about declining a round of drinks. Alcohol is second to fat in terms of the number of calories it contains per gram, so keep this in mind whenever you are at a party.
Tip #3 – Get others in a healthy mood
Since it can be difficult to find healthy food to eat when you are a guest at someone’s house, offer to bring a healthy dish to share. This way, you know that there will be at least one healthy thing that you can eat at the party.
On the other hand, healthy eating can be much easier if you are hosting the party at your own house. Let your guests know in advance if you do not want them to bring you unhealthy foods, such as cupcakes, chocolates, etc.
Furthermore, if your party is potluck-styled, set a healthy theme for it and let your guests know what sorts of food they should bring. Surrounding your guests with healthy food and getting everyone to eat more responsibly can really help you stick to your diet plan.
Another way to make your party healthier for you and your guests is to bake your vegetables instead of roasting them, and to make low-calorie versions of sweets that you usually buy at stores. Your body and your guests are sure to appreciate the time and effort!
Tip #4 – Make an effort to exercise
(photo: Edson Hong)
Ensure that you are consistent with your exercise schedule, especially since you are likely to be eating more than usual. If you are attending a party tomorrow, try to make up for it today by exercising slightly longer than usual.
Doing something that involves your friends and family can also help you to feel more motivated, and may help you avoid skipping exercise in order to spend more time with your loved ones.
What are your strategies for coping with the detrimental effect parties seem to have on your health? Share them in the comments!
Edited by guest contributor Registered Dietitian Arielle Kamps, M.S., R.D, L.D. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide “Eat Your Way to Health – Secrets of a Healthy Diet”.