Be balanced, be merry

If you celebrate Christmas, your plans for tomorrow probably include feasting. To squeeze maximum enjoyment out of the day, while minimizing the risk of overindulging, consider these tips:

  • Start the day right. If you usually eat breakfast, don’t skip it on the holiday to “make room” for more food later. You’ll just be ravenous and less able to actually savor the flavor of what you are eating. If Christmas morning traditionally means some sort of gooey, yummy baked concoction, add balance and staying power with simple scrambled eggs (bonus points if you add veggies) and a nice fruit bowl.
  • Stay hydrated. Odds are that some favorite holiday dishes are high in sodium, and sweet treats can make you thirsty as well. Drink your fill of calorie-free beverages like water (still or sparkling) and unsweetened hot tea or coffee.
  • Reach for small plates. Research shows time and time again that we think we are eating more than we really are when we use smaller plates and bowls (this is true for people who know all about this “trick”). The same goes for cups and glasses, especially if you are enjoying caloric beverages like eggnogg, juice, cider, punch or alcohol. Use a tiny glass, and even if you decide to have a refill, you feel like you are splurging more than you really are (I do this all the time at home, using taster glasses for beer and the smaller Duralex Picardie tumblers for wine.)
  • Don’t try everything. I’m a big fan of trying new foods, but if there are a zillion different choices at your holiday meal, dishing yourself portions of the ones you don’t think you’ll really enjoy (or know you won’t) means depriving yourself of what you really want…which can lead to overindulging if you clean your plate then go back for seconds of those favorites.
  • Be mindful. I know I’ve been talking about this a LOT the last few weeks, but that’s because it is so true! Even at a crowded holiday table, you can alternate between conversing and pausing to really taste what’s on your fork. It’s a delicious holiday meal…enjoy it!
  • Bring a healthy dish. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought a green salad or veggie tray to a gathering, thinking that Jeff and I might be the only ones partaking of it, only to find that kids and adults alike swarm over it like locusts. (Sometimes, it turns out that was the ONLY vegetable dish present!) Lots of people realize, even if only subconsciously, that balancing the healthy and the indulgent will leave them feeling better (read: less stuffed and lethargic) once the meal is over.
  • Accept your choices. Whatever you decide to eat or drink, don’t dampen your pleasure with a side of guilt. If you choose to overindulge, be intentional about it. At least you will be making a choice, instead sliding into it mindlessly, then wondering the next day, “How did I eat/drink that much…and why?”

As for me, I’m looking forward to a delicious dinner, prepared by my sister (I’m contributing a yet-to-be-decided on dessert), and my mom’s fudge. I never make fudge, because a big batch of fudge is the last thing Jeff and I need to have in our two-person household. I know that too much sugar makes me feel bleh, so I’ll work hard to limit myself to a piece or two, and savor them slowly.