The holiday season is upon us, and you know what that means: family, merriment, and a butter-soaked, booze-fueled shame spiral come January 1st.
Whether it’s that glass of wine (or six) at the Christmas Eve dinner table, one bite too many of your mom’s famous fudge brownies, or shots of eggnog with your cousins in the basement trying to forget your drunk uncle’s off color jokes, the holidays can be calorically challenging to say the least.
But they can also be joyous and merry and filled with love and gifts and hugs and no one judges you when you ugly cry watching "Love Actually" four consecutive nights in a row.
Yet, whether they’re euphoric or they’re stressful, either way, they will most likely be sugar-laden, calorie-charged, and totally un-sober.
HOW TO FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DIET THIS SEASON:
1. Avoid the “F*ck It” Mindset
The biggest reason people gain weight over the holidays isn’t because they have a couple less-than-ideal meals, it’s because they let those less-than-ideal meals turn into an entire less-than-ideal month of uncharacteristic overeating, indulgence, and excess.
Strive for balance this holiday season and aim to indulge in moderation. “All or nothing” thinking will almost always land you on the “all” side of the spectrum, so pick and choose your “naughty” meals, and aim to be eat as “nice” as possible outside of those instances.
2. Practice Eating Slowly and Until You’re 80% Full
When you do indulge, it’s important to indulge intelligently. Just because you allow yourself dessert on New Years Eve, doesn’t mean you need to eat the whole damn cake. Have one slice, chew it slowly, and savor it thoroughly.
Another great way to ensure your indulgences don’t turn into pure gluttony, is to only eat until you’re 80% full. Just because you don’t leave the table feeling uncomfortably stuffed doesn’t mean you weren’t able to enjoy the meal to 100% satisfaction. Eat until you’re full, but not until you’re stuffed.
3. Find an Accountabilibuddy
As with all things in life, eating well will be harder if you try to do it alone. Rope in a family member to help you out and watch your back. Ask them to give you a little nudge or an eyebrow raise if they spy you overindulging. Even if they refuse to help you out, the very act of asking them will mean you’re less likely to make a total fool of yourself in front of them, at least in terms of eating.
HOW TO BOOZE BETTER THIS DECEMBER:
Golden Rule Number 1: Drink Water!
You absolutely, 100% need to be consuming water. Otherwise, you’ll wake up with a cruddy hangover, hungry as Fashion Week, and you'll most certainly skip the gym and be craving crap food all day. So here’s the rule: for every alcoholic beverage you have, you need to be chugging a full glass of water afterwards (preferably without ice).
That goes for: Every. Single. Cocktail.
Minus maybe one if you’re feeling the need for some extra buzz— but just one.
Golden Rule Number 2: Eat, But Not Too Much
Eating before you drink might seem counterintuitive.
"I mean, if I don’t eat before, I’ll get drunker quicker and drink less overall, right?"
But getting drunk and sitting down at a dinner table is like walking into a pick up bar with a nice buzz: you’ve got drunk goggles on. And reflecting back on your actions the next day, you might find them less attractive in the harsh light of morning.
In other words, you’re at high risk of overeating and making unhealthy choices.
Go into your drinking situation with something healthy already in your stomach. If you’re going to a party, eat a light, healthy dinner before, not after. And if you’re enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail, have a healthy snack before that— hummus and veggies, cottage cheese and fruit, a hearty protein shake, etc. Just have something clean and wholesome in your stomach to buffer the booze. Buzzed overeating, more than anything, is what gets people during the holidays.
Drunk Goggles = Bad Choices
Which brings me to my final rule, which is:
Golden Rule Number 3: Make a Plan and Know Your Limits
If you know you’re going to be drinking on a given day, hydrate as much as you can ahead of time and plan your day calorically. Also, before you commence activities, be sure to make a specific plan about exactly how many drinks you are going to allow yourself and over what period of time. This concept goes for food as well. Be sure to state your intentions aloud to another human being, so you can actually be held accountable to them.
Helpful Hint #1: make these goals realistic.
Helpful hint #2: if you wanna double down on your goals, tell a friend or family member you’ll buy them a pricey bottle of champagne if you don’t stick to your plan. And trust me, everyone likes champagne, and that person will watch you like a hawk all night.
And, of course, know your limits.
Don’t be stupid.
And, more importantly, don’t be unrealistic.
Now go forth my friends and holiday your festive little butts off!
You got this.