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If you’re like me, your month is already packed with holiday parties and visits from friends and family. December is the most social time of year. Even though strong social ties have been shown to keep you healthy, unhealthy habits like stressing out or overindulging in food and drinks over the holidays can negate the health benefits of socializing. Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy on the holiday party circuit:
- Pre-game with protein and fiber. – Although pre-game usually refers to drinking before heading out to an event, I’m using it here to refer to food. Try eating a light meal before heading out to a holiday party. This will ensure that you are less likely to dig in when the dessert plate is passed around because you will arrive at the party feeling full and satisfied. Make sure that your pre-game meal is low in processed carbs and high in protein and fiber. Protein and fiber are slow to digest, meaning that they stay in your stomach longer. This will prevent you from absorbing alcohol into your bloodstream too fast.
- Choose your hors d’oeuvres wisely. – Stick to hors d’oeuvres that meat-based or vegetable-based. Stay away from sweets, puff pastries, crackers, and bread-based snacks.
- Count the number of servings of hors d’oeuvres that you have over the course of the evening. – Stop when you reach 6 – 8 servings. Depending on the size of the hors d’oeuvres, that will equal roughly a plate of food.
- Only snack on your favorite treats. Skip the snacks that you can live without. – Why spend the calories on something that you feel “meh” about? Instead, have a second serving of your favorite treat.
- Drink the alcohol, but skip the sugary mixers. – It’s fine to get a little cheerful over the holidays. I’m not going to lecture you about drinking within your limits. But there are a few drink ingredients that you don’t want to mess with. If you are going to drink cocktails, steer clear of mixed drinks that contain soda (either regular or diet). If you crave something with carbonation, ask for some seltzer water. Also, don’t go for a drink mixed with grenadine, which is almost always made with high fructose corn syrup.
- Drink whatever you want. The type of alcohol doesn’t matter. –
As far as the type of alcohol you drink, it doesn’t really matter as much as some people think. For example: some studies show that dark alcohols like whiskey cause more intense hangovers, but other studies show that wood-aged dark alcohols have an impressive amount of antioxidants. The jury is out. Just keep it civil folks.
- Stay hydrated by forcing yourself to drink water on a schedule. – Drinking water can be boring in between tasty bites of lobster and sips of champagne. But staying hydrated is critical if you want to wake up energized the morning after a party. Try drinking 2 glasses of water before the party, 2 during, and 2 right before bed to ensure that you wake up feeling great.
- Have a good attitude – The holidays can be very stressful. The most important thing that you can do at this time of year is to relax and have fun. So what if you are late to the party or forgot a hostess gift. Grab a lobster roll, give your coworkers a pat on the pack, and unwind for once.
What are your favorite tips for staying healthy on the holiday party circuit? Share them in the comments.
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