There’s no need to explain the challenge of keeping nutrition goals on track during the holidays — we all have our own flavor of struggle. According to celebrity nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, all it takes is a little smart planning to keep our sense of well being soaring high. Her signature approach and debut book, Body Love, are right in line with our wellness values. Take notes and stroll — not roll — through this season and straight into 2018 feeling healthy, happy and nourished…
Don’t Go Hungry. Enjoy the “Roadie”
Arrive feeling balanced by ingesting 15-20 grams of protein before the party. Protein and fat help to balance blood sugar and make us feel satiated. This strategy helps you not feel ravenous and resist grabbing the first tray-passed appetizer without thinking. My clients affectionately coined this technique the “roadie”
and enjoy a light protein shake on the way to their event. Arriving with balanced blood sugar allows you to feel calm, avoiding the holiday party pitfalls or calorie-laden desserts and appetizers.
Get the Menu
The best way to survive a holiday party is to know what you are walking into. How many times are you checking ingredients and menus before a work lunch? Being just as prepared for your holiday parties allows you to make decisions ahead of time and stick to your guns. Be a detective: Will there be a full meal or tray-passed appetizers only? Will there be beer and wine or a full bar? Is it a potluck? If so, you’re in luck! Bring a gilt-free plate.
Appetizers can quickly add up to a full meal and some fried options can be a real calorie bomb. If you know you are going to enjoy the main course, politely decline the small morsels. However, if you are in need of a little sustenance reach for protein-based appetizers. The best options include anything that belongs on a seafood tower, a mini lamb chop or chicken skewer. The veggie tray and hummus can be a great option unless you’re the girl who eats the whole bowl… you know who you are. Avoid fried, quiche and flat-bread options – these appetizers spike blood sugar and contribute to insulin resistance, inflammation and weight gain. If the appetizers are set up on a table grab a small plate and fill it once. If you have come prepared and calm, grab your wine and float to the opposite side of the room. Remember: You are there to enjoy your friends and celebrate!
Earn Your Alcohol
Make a pact with yourself that you will workout the day of the event and the day after. A little hangover can throw you off your game and get you out of your healthy routine. The perfect time to workout would be two to three hours before the event, followed by a protein-based snack, then hair and makeup. If you don’t have time to work out right before the event, no sweat, before work or midday works too. It is all about staying active and making room in your muscles to suck up the extra holiday glucose.
The easiest way to hydrate and take a deep breath is to make your first drink alcohol free. Grab a soda water with lemon or flat water. This technique allows you to work through the first few party jitters without sucking down a cocktail too quickly. It is also nice to survey the party and recommit to your game plan. You might even decide that you don’t want to waste a boozy night at this party. Starting with water is also sometimes easier than trying to put the wine down. Find what works for you, a water intermission or start your dinner with water and make the decision if one was enough for the night or if you want another. Double fisting (water and cocktail) is a great strategy as well.
At Be Well, we encourage our clients to make a choice between alcohol and dessert. Many clients are also surprised when we suggest a small piece of dark chocolate over a fruit plate. Partygoers who choose fruit allow themselves a pretty large portion when one bite of chocolate would hit the spot without the added fructose. Unfortunately, 100% of fructose is metabolized in the liver and with alcohol and fructose both filtering primarily to the liver, we are taxing the body with a heavy post-party detox.
Many times we eat out of anxiety, habit or polite response. We end up swallowing foods that don’t agree with us, give us food gilt or worse, we eat foods we don’t even like! At Be Well, we teach are client to remember what they love and politely decline what doesn’t agree with them. This takes practice but it always helps to be the first to respond. Make eye contact with the server and politely decline so you don’t jump on the bandwagon with the group. Avoid making excuses for why you aren’t eating the crab cake or cupcake, simply smile and engage back in conversation.
Wake Up and Hydrate
Wake up and drink two large glasses of water to help flush out your system and lower blood-glucose levels. It’s especially important if you have been drinking alcohol and might be dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated the volume of blood decreases and the blood glucose remains the same, meaning you have more concentrated blood sugar. Drinking water (ten glasses a day, post holiday) can increase blood volume and decrease glucose concentration.
Move Baby Move
Start your morning with a fasting workout to help bring glucose levels down. (You read that right!) You don’t need to eat before your workout because you are already full of your holiday feast. Pick your favorite workout and get moving to burn up stored glycogen in your muscles and bring down elevated blood glucose. No need to HIIT your way back into balance, but movement is mandatory to burn up elevated glucose.
Sip Yourself Back into Balance!
Opt to shut down lingering cravings post-holiday with a protein-, fat- and fiber-based green smoothie! Protein, fat and fiber all support blood-sugar balance by slowing the absorption rate of glucose, and they also calm over six hunger-related hormones. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of high blood glucose is increased hunger, so a protein-, fat- and fiber-based meal can lower cravings. Don’t blend up a smoothie loaded with fruit and dates along with the protein, or you will be defeating the purpose of it. The goal is to go low-sugar and low-starch to bring elevated glucose down. If a smoothie isn’t for you, a veggie scramble with avocado will do the trick too!
Love these tips? Discover more easy-access wellness wisdom from Kelly here!