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Eat, Drink and Be Wary…! (Posted On: Tuesday, November 25, 2008)

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The Mathematician’s Guide to Holiday Feasts & Festive Spirits:  New Year’s Eve is but five weeks away.  The Season of Celebration is upon us!  We see the sights, the shimmering lights and the magic of fresh snow around us. 

And all look forward to the smells of plump turkeys roasting, savory dressings and the spice of splendid soufflés (not to mention the oven hot pecan and pumpkin pies that tempt us!).

And then there are the sounds so familiar to holiday gatherings, children laughing, family cheer…

and another load of pots and pans grinding away in the dishwasher (a special treat none of you Miele fans can relate to, I’m sure…!). 

This IS a season of celebration and celebration means FOOD!

Like many of you, I have long advocated, we should NEVER let the opportunity for a great meal go to waste (what a perfect time of year to follow through on that thought!).

What we really want to do, though is ensure every great meal doesn’t go to WAIST!

The problem (and the pure pleasure!) of this time of year is there are SO many great meals!

Consider the number of times over the next five weeks we’ll have the opportunity to gather with family and friends, neighbours, colleagues from work, church groups, associations, clubs, casual gatherings, at home, out, wining, dining, entertaining…

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Do the math!

A simple hypothetical…

Five weeks (two of them holiday weeks)… let’s say ten dinners in, ten dinners out, six very special dinners, twenty cocktail gatherings (10, 10, 6, 20… sounds like a long distance phone plan!).  Each of these gatherings will, of course, offer those specials seasonal appetizers, fancy cocktails, lavish main courses and, of course, the decadent desserts we all so look forward to…!

Expect these seasonal ‘celebrations’ to add twenty or thirty even forty THOUSAND calories to your food plan, between now and January 1, 2009!

It’s no wonder so many of us find ourselves five or six (or eight or ten!) pounds heavier, at the turn of the calendar, than we are today. 

While we’re counting down the New Year’s Eve Ball… ten, nine, eight… our weigh scales are counting up… five, six, seven…!

Put these few simple Tips to work for you, so you can enjoy the holiday cheer without the holiday fear (of weight gain).

Get Ready:  In the weeks heading into this holiday season be particularly conscious of your food choices, including drink choices.  Focus on whole foods, stay very well hydrated, get plenty of rest and stay active.  Keep simple sugars, simple starches, animal source saturated fats, added salt, caffeine and alcohol to a minimum.  A healthy body will help to support healthy choices throughout the holiday season.

Stay Active:  Do your very best to maintain or even increase your daily activities throughout the season.  Walk more.  Be active, even if just twenty or thirty minutes each day.  If your training activities must be interrupted, be sure to get some training in and escalate your intensities.  It’s much easier to maintain your level of fitness throughout the holidays with less frequent more intense workouts.

Get Outside:  It’s a BEAUTIFUL time of year to be outside!  Walk, ski, shoe… make time to enjoy the super natural world around you!

Have a Plan:  Know what you want to do throughout the holiday season.  Have a clear picture in your mind.  The more detailed you are in this regard, the more helpful this Tip will be.  Have a plan as respects the number of social events you will attend, the time you will arrive, the time you will leave, what you will eat, what you will drink.  The goal in all of this is to be making conscious choices throughout the season.

Be Picky:  Choose the events you want to be a part of.  Choose the foods you want to eat.  Choose the drinks you want to drink.  Do your VERY best not to allow others to be making these choices for you… again, be VERY conscious.  Get good at saying “no”… “thank you, it’s all so delicious, but I’m perfectly satisfied”.

Eat Ahead:  Make sure you have a healthy whole food snack or meal prior to holiday ‘get togethers’.  Always include a protein, fruits, vegetables, yoghurt or a healthy whole food meal replacement Shake.  This will ensure you’ll want to spend less time around the food table and protect you against unhealthy food choices late at night.

Stay Hydrated:  Drinking LOTS of clean quality water is important always but especially this time of year.  You will feel full longer and your body will thank you!

Socialize!:  At every gathering, engage and keep engaging!  You will have so many opportunities to meet so many new and interesting people and while you’re doing that, you won’t be back to the bar or the buffet, nearly as often!

Dance!:  Every gathering that offers an opportunity to dance, dance!  It’s always a challenge to keep all those Cosmos in the glass while your ChaCha partner is spinning you to the Latin beat!

Be VERY Selective with those appetizers:  Canapés and calories often go hand in hand.  Know that just one of the most innocent looking hors d’houvres can contribute as much as 200 calories to your day.  Be selective!

Choose Simple Foods:  The less complicated the better.  Holiday preparations add calories and often not good calories so stay as close to whole food choices as you possibly can.

Take it Slowly!:  This one’s easy.  We satisfy our hunger long before we know it.  Take it easy.  Allow your body to catch up.  You’ll know when you’ve had what you need and you’ll rarely risk over-eating.

Choose Moderation:  This will reward you throughout the year, not just during this season of celebration.  Enjoy your choices of course, but choose moderation.

See Food From a Distance:  This may be a bit too obvious…!  Find a place wherever you are that makes the food a little less available to you.  You’ll eat less!

Cruise the Food:  Take time to see what food choices are available to you.  Consciously choose the foods that interest you most and stick with those!

Know your Drinks:  For the hard line ‘calorie counter’, anything with alcohol in it is a bad choice… for the rest of we fun loving (normal!) human beings, festive spirits help boost festive spirits… right?  But do be responsible, know your limits and know your drinks.  A five ounce serving of wine (white, red, champagne) is 100 to 120 calories, a twelve ounce serving of beer is 100 to 150 calories.  An ounce and a half of spirits can be less than 100 calories but a vodka/tonic is 200 calories.  Do choose low cal/no cal mixes, if you’re choosing cocktails.  An excellent addition to any cocktail plan is a large glass of water before, during and after.  Enjoy (and stay well hydrated!).

Beware the Dangerously Deceptive Drinks:  The holidays can bring out the mixologist in all of us!  Admire the art.  Forego the experience.  The Hot Buttered Rum and the Rum & Egg Nog can be another meal unto themselves (each can deliver as much as 400 calories!).  Beware!

Give Guilt the Boot!:  Do your very best to be good, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t quite make it through the night without a little (decadent) indulgence or two (or three!).  It’s not the end of the world after all and you get to be ‘perfect’ all over again, once the sun comes up!

Relax and Enjoy!  Do allow yourself the pleasures of the season, enjoy your family and friends, good food, good fun, good wine… celebrate the abundance so many of us enjoy in our lives and remember those less fortunate than we are, as often as you can.



Be sure to follow Fit & Fabulous for many more tips on being and staying Fit & Fabulous!


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