Holiday Survival Tip #2: Take control of the situation
It doesn’t really matter whether you’re giving the party, you’re a guest, or you’re on the road, you can take control over what’s on the menu and what you get to eat no matter where you are. Just a few minutes of pre-planning and decision-making NOW, can save you from months of dieting off the holiday weight gain and trying to get out of a sugar-eating and carb-craving cycle.
Here’s how to take control:
You’re giving the party. You get to choose the menu.
- ‘Health-ify’ some of your dishes – lighten up on the processed sugar and grains, add in some more vegetables, especially the dark green leafy variety.
- Serve your traditional dishes, but add in a few extra healthier protein, side dish, or dessert options - just for you. Don’t be surprised if your guests go for your ‘good’ stuff.
You’re going to a party in someone’s home.
- If it’s a potluck dinner, then bring a dish that you’d like to have that will help you stay ‘on the wagon’.
- Not going to a potluck? Ask the host if you can bring a side dish, anyway. If the answer is no, you can still gift the host with a little something that’s on the healthier side (like spiced nuts – scroll down for the recipe) to keep you from filling up on chips, crackers, and sugary junk. Always a good strategy if it’s a cocktail party instead of a dinner.
- Bring a bottle or two of organic wine – no sulfites, pesticides, stuffy noses, or extra toxins for your liver to process.
You’re going to a restaurant, cocktail party, or catered event.
- Before the party, go online and scope out the restaurant or event venue menu. Choose a few possibilities from the menu that you think you will enjoy without regret or guilt.
- If there’s not much on the menu that’s suitable, or it’s a cocktail party, eat at home before you go. Have some quality protein like a hard-boiled egg, tuna salad, or fiber-filled chia seed pudding.
- Share a main dish (American portions are way too big for most humans).
- Order a few appetizers instead of a main course.
- If it’s a buffet, survey all the food options (take a walk from end to end of the buffet) before you put anything on your plate so you can make good choices.
You’re on the go, traveling, or stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Always have emergency food with you for when your plans go awry (and they will). The following options travel well so you can keep them stashed away in your bag or car indefinitely until you need them.
- Protein bars - Epic Bars, Rx Bars, and Larabars. Look for more protein then carbs. Stay away from any bar with lots of sugar, artificial sweeteners or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Nuts - easy to find almost anywhere. First choice is raw, but roasted and unsalted will do in a pinch. Also, almond butter in individual serving packets - easy to eat on the run (Justin’s is easy to find). Stay away from nuts that are roasted in unhealthy oils like soy, canola, 'vegetable' oil, and anything labeled as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.
- Cans of tuna, salmon, or sardines provide a convenient blast of protein when you're nowhere near good food.
- Jerky, made without nitrates or preservatives. Krave is an easy to find brand.
- A good airport choice: Plain Greek yogurt - not 0% fat! The protein and fat in Greek yogurt will keep your hunger at bay until your next opportunity for a good meal.
Recipe: Sweet & Salty Spiced Nuts
- 2 1/2 cup nuts – almonds, pecans, cashews, and macadamias taste best*
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Heat oil over medium-low heat, then add cumin and cayenne. Cook ’til fragrant, about 15 seconds.
3. Pour oil over the nuts and toss well to coat. Add sugar and salt; toss to coat.
4. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes, til they’re lightly browned. Check them at 10 minutes, rotate the pans, and give ‘em a shake.
Tip: They taste best at room temperature ’cause they’re crispy, but some people like them warm.
* The pecans are particularly good because the spices get stuck in the little cracks.