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Tips to Tame those Holiday Cravings

We’re human: we see a tray of chocolate chip cookies and eggnog, and our mouths begin to drool. Our bodies are wired to crave sugar and fat, and it’s nearly impossible to neglect our temptations during the holiday season.

My advice: indulge…in moderation. Don’t punish yourself; it will not work. Instead, it will backfire, leaving you irritable, unsatisfied and more likely to binge. Before you realize, that whole tray of cookies will be gone. A couple of years worth of these types of Christmas gorges and you’ll find you’ll be visiting somewhere like Dentist Framingham a lot more than you ever have before, potentially for the rest of your life if the temptation to cram sugary treats isn’t curbed.

Here are my tips for surviving—and loving—the holiday menu:

  • Don’t arrive empty handed. Bring a bottle of wine, a vegetable dish or a healthy, low-fat dessert. Your hosts will appreciate the thought, and you will be able to munch on some healthier alternatives.
  • Don’t get too comfortable. Wear something form-fitting as a reminder to watch your stomach. For ladies, that means a tight dress, skirt or skinny jeans. For men, stick to a button down tucked into your pants with a belt. The “ugly sweater” party may be one to nix.
  • Keep yours hands busy. For ladies, carry a clutch and drink in hand. For men, replace that clutch with your phone. With both hands occupied, it will be difficult to over-eat during hors d’oeuvres.
  • Pick the right sips. Avoid eggnogs, hot chocolates, buttered rums and fruit punches, as these are heavy in calories. Anything that’s cream or egg based screams danger. Opt for wine—red actually contains resveratrol to boost longevity—beer, champagne, or a mixture of one liquor and diet soda. As additional liquors are added, the calories increase.
  • Focus on the company. The party should not be about food, but rather the joy to share with friends and family. Before leaving the house, write down your intentions for the evening. Examples may be: to get to know Gregory’s partner better, to ask Stefani how her job is going, to play with Debbie’s dog. With fun, social and non-food-related goals, you’ll be too distracted to think about another trip to the appetizer station.
  • Bring a pack of gum. If temptation hits, chew a piece. With your mouth busy, there won’t be any room for more.
  • Take one or two bites each. Indecisive? I totally understand. It’s hard to pick one, especially during the holidays. From the pushy Aunt practically shoving her homemade apple pie in your face to the excited friend who just learned how to use a stove, it can be challenging to say no. You should—you deserve to be your own boss—but it’s sometimes impossible. Take one of each, but save room for only one small bite or two.
  • Say no to leftovers. Hosts don’t want them either, so they bring out the goody bags. If fruit or bottles of wine or champagne are up for grabs, raise your hands high before someone else beats you. Bringing fattening dishes with refined flour home with you will derail your health efforts during the week.
  • Eliminate something. Go into the party with a decision, to forgo either a food group or course. Some great options include: eliminating dairy, but allowing yourself to eat gluten (and visa-versa), or eliminating appetizers for dessert.
  • Make sacrifices for your holiday favorites. If you look forward to your mother’s spiked peppermint hot chocolate with whip each year, enjoy it, but limit yourself to one and skip dessert. This drink is a dessert itself.
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