when the holiday season bites back: navigating holiday gatherings

If you've gone shopping, well... anywhere, lately, you've seen the displays indicating that... yes, indeed, the holiday season is here (my local drugstore had Christmas trees on display in early October... talk about too. dang. early.)! That means it's the time of year for communal dinners, decorating, and watching a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It means we're on the cusp of a month of sparkling evergreens and caroling, A Christmas Story on repeat on TV, family traditions, and cinnamon and nutmeg.

It also means... plates of sweet homemade desserts in the company break-room and candy bowls filled to the brim. It means family dinners with the traditional menu of starchy, buttery carbs and decadent gravies, holiday parties with family, friends and co-workers. For some, it means stress, anxiety, and the pangs of loneliness. 

Experts have shown that, on average, Americans gain 1-2 pounds every holiday season and never lose it. This hiccup in our healthy habits can prove seriously difficult to overcome in regaining momentum and motivation.

Each week this year, I'm giving you tips, tricks, and recipes -- so that you can get a leg-up on the season!

Here are some great tips for navigating the holiday merriment -- how to stay on track and navigate holiday parties in style (and health)!

NAVIGATING HOLIDAY GATHERINGS

Here are 5 tips for staying on track and enjoying the festivities:

1.) Eat Before You Arrive: It's easy to sabotage your holiday health goals if you arrive at a party famished! Eat a veggie-heavy meal or healthy green smoothie beforehand to not only give your body the nutrients it needs but cut down on that urge to scarf down everything at the buffet!

2.) Don't Graze at the Buffet: Don't let the sheer amount of options at the buffet overwhelm you. There is a way to enjoy those delicious treats while maintaining your much desired health goals! First things first, fill half of your plate with plant-based options.  Then, pick two or three delicious looking goodies to splurge on!  Bonus tip: Once you've filled your plate, get away from the buffet.  Standing near the food will encourage you to keep filling your plate for seconds (or thirds)!

3.) Track Your Beverages: Imbibing with alcohol drinks not only fills you up with empty calories but encourages you to eat more!  Track your beverages throughout the night, limiting yourself to one, two or three, and - here's an additional trick - alternate your drinks with a large glass of water.  Not only will it keep you hydrated, but it will keep you full and flush out toxins throughout the night.

4.) Choose Your Indulgences: Just because you're watching what you eat doesn't mean that you have to deny yourself to an extreme. Restricting ourselves too much can cause us to binge when our willpower runs out.  Is there a treat that you just can't live without? Plan ahead, knowing that you are going to treat yourself.  Rather than scarfing down the entire pie, eat one slice and truly enjoy it!  Eat it slowly, enjoying the flavors and texture and taste!

5.) Pick the Salad Plate:  When given the option, choose a smaller plate! You'll still feel full but will be able to keep your portions intact when you pick a smaller plate!

If you make a mistake or trip up, remember that it's ok! Shame is a destructive force in our lives, leading us away from health, physically, mentally and emotionally. If you overeat at a party, make the choice to eat a vegetable heavy diet the next day and drink lots of water! You are never more than a meal away from making healthy choices.

What are your favorite tricks and tips for staying healthy during the holidays? Join the Wellness by Kate Community and share below!