Stores have had Christmas items on sale for weeks now, Christmas lights are popping up in my neighbourhood and my husband and I have already received two invitations for Christmas parties. Although it's still only November, the holiday festivities seem to be already in full swing and with that comes food. All kinds of food.
Anyone who works in an office or a school will surely be receiving the "thank-you" boxes of chocolates, homemade plates of cookies or a Christmas cake. Those that work one on one with clients have no doubt been presented with a nice bottle of wine or perhaps have been treated to lunch out. Employee Christmas parties, complete with buffet dinners and complimentary drink tickets are marked on calendars everywhere (sometimes more than one!) . Even the samples at Costco are more plentiful and decadent in nature this time of year. It seems that everywhere you go and every function you attend between now and mid January has a plethora of food as a prerequisite. So, how does a person partake in the festivities and not gain that annual 10lbs - 15lbs of holiday bloat and weight? It's really just about keeping your balance.
The one thing that all party food has in common is carbohydrates. Almost all treat food, including alcohol, is in some way processed, or high in sugar, both of which equate to carbs and lots of them. Now there's nothing wrong with eating carbs, our body does need them. The problem arises when carbs are consumed in large quantities, without a protein or fat, or both. In those situations, the blood sugar suddenly goes up, or spikes, causing the body to store those carbs as fat. Belly fat to be precise. This is where the balancing act comes into play.
In order for our bodies to function properly, we need to fuel it correctly. Fueling correctly means that each meal must consist of a protein, a fat and a carbohydrate. That's called eating in 3's When we do this, our bodies remain in homeostasis, a balanced state where blood sugar is stable, hormones are stable and no fat is stored. Rather, blood sugar stabilization causes fat to be released into the body to be burned up and used as energy. Here's how this information can be applied at a dinner party or office "after hours" event.
First rule of thumb is NEVER arrive at an event hungry. Arriving hungry means your blood sugar is low, making it almost impossible to resist reaching for those high-carbohydrate foods like chips and bread. Second, save the alcohol to enjoy with your meal. Making sure to have a protein and some fat in your body before, or with your drink, slows down the metabolizing of food, keeping the blood sugar in check and helping the body to remain balanced. Third, make it your off-plan meal. If thinking about balancing is not something you're going to stick to very well, you could always schedule your off-plan meals for the day of the party. Knowing that you have something to look forward to at the end of the week is an awesome way to focus on staying balanced during those days in between events,
So do accept those party invitations and do get dressed up and go out on the town. And however you choose to celebrate just remember to: Eat, Drink and be Balanced
Here's to your health!
Tania Gustafson Nutritionist & Fitness Coach, IBNFC
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