The Dessert Table: RD’s Guide to Navigating Social Events
… Because you don’t want to be locked in a closet until after New Years!
You walk into your in-laws house. Anxious, you accept that first cocktail or beer. Feeling slightly better, you start to have appetizers and another drink. Ah, dinner is served. Carb Heaven. You can’t say no to two scoops of stuffing some mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and a few more spirits.
You’re full and feeling guilty.
Dessert comes out!
Now you go back and forth; “Should I eat that piece of pie or should I refuse?”
No matter who you are and how you celebrate the holidays, if you have fitness and nutrition goals, the chances of feeling some sort of discomfort toward food during a celebration has or will happen to you.
So here are some rules of the road to navigate social gatherings during the holidays!
What to Do:
1… Set Boundaries
At some point you have to say enough is enough. One day of indulging is reasonable, but the continuous get togethers and social gatherings add up.
So, put your foot down and say no. Change is scary and uncomfortable. You may have to speak to your loved ones and let them know your goals.
To avoid overeating and feeling like a real Santa Claus, eat something healthy before you get to the party. If you’re already a little full or even satisfied, you’re less likely to overindulge in foods you’d rather not eat.
3… Plan Ahead
Ask the chef what they’re whippin’ up! If you know there will be sweet potatoes, turkey or other lean meats and a good amount of veggies, you’ll be more prepared to have a good meal and stay within your normal eating habits.
On the flip side, if they’re not making food that jives with your goals, volunteer to bring a side dish, even if you’re the only one who eats it.
4… Treat Yo’Self
Let’s call it a treat meal instead of cheat meal. “Cheating” implies guilt. Foods aren’t “good” or “bad”. Sure, there are healthier options than others but you should allow yourself to have a good time. If eating a piece of cheesecake once a year has you in a tizzy then you need to look at why that is.
Denying yourself simple pleasures, especially during the holiday season can lead to binging and feeling even more pain and guilt. It’s okay to live a little, we promise.
5… Don’t Double Up
If you want a few beers, starchy carbs or dessert, go for it, but don’t have ALL of them together. It’s one thing to enjoy yourself (see number four again!), and it’s another to gorge yourself on all of the foods you’d normally avoid.
Make this decision BEFORE you go. Do you want alcohol, starch or dessert. Going into the meal having made your decision, you’ve decided to do what’s satisfying instead of feeling like you should have had another indulgence.
Repeat after us: “I will have a good holiday season. I can savor the meals I share with the ones I love and know I’m still on track.” If all else fails, ditch your family and eat plain chicken and broccoli alone in your apartment.