Molly McNamee | How to survive the Holidays?
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How to survive the Holidays?

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Everyone is happier, families get along better - or at least pretend to, you can wear big comfy sweaters and cuddle up in blankets, watch 'Elf' without being judged... But it's also a time of the year where people get into a bit of trouble when it comes to their health. Holiday season is great because of the cheerfulness, but it is also terrible because the main activity for two months straight is eating and drinking. On top of that, many people use the holiday's as an excuse to not workout - 'it's too cold outside', 'my family is in town', 'but... pumpkin pie'. Nonsense. If it's too cold outside - workout indoors, if you are with your family - be active with them! And pumpkin pie is truly no excuse. However, this post is going to be mostly about the black hole we dig ourselves when it comes to food during the holiday season. I have four scenarios for you, and the best ways you can escape a gathering without having a food hangover (or a real hangover) the next day.

Scenario One: The Holiday Party

You know that work party or that gathering with your friends that will be lots of fun, but will also have lots of drinks and unhealthy food dishes? You get so caught up in having fun that you don't realize you've consumed over a thousand calories in alcohol and food in less then one hour. How do we stop this from happening? Easy.

1. Eat before you go! You are setting yourself up for disaster if you go to these parties with an empty stomach! Go to the party full and then when someone asks if you want to have some of the fattening cheesecake you can honestly say - not right now I just ate.

2. Bring a healthy side dish that YOU can eat. I know not everyone is as health conscious as me and certainly not everyone is a vegetarian.  When I go to a party, I try and make sure I am bringing something I can eat, so I can be sure that when I get hungry I won't be stuck with the unhealthy stuff. Perhaps think about bringing something in the vegetable family.

3. If you plan on drinking, plan on having alcohol in one hand and water in the other. This will slow the drinking process and help with the hangover...

Scenario Two: The Family Dinner

The big holiday meals always include far more food than is necessary, which is why people feel the need to eat far more food than they really need. But just remember, you don't have to stuff your face.

1. Don't hold out eating the rest of the day because 'there will be lots of food later.' Eat regularly. It's good, in general, to eat 5-6 times a day anyway. So on the day of a big meal, eat breakfast! That is so important. But then also eat a little something every few hours before dinner. This way, you aren't starving when it comes time for the meal and you stop yourself from over eating.

2. Know your portion sizes. Create a balanced plate. An easy way to judge what you are eating is to see what colors are on your plate.  If your plate is all beige, you are doing something wrong. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing ... all the same color and not the best choices. Get some greens and oranges and pretty colors on your plate!

3. No one is forcing you to eat dessert. And just because it is there doesn't mean you need to eat all of it. Holiday's are special, so if you want to eat some dessert - go for it. But the problem is, leftover desserts. Cookies, cake, and pie are all sitting in your house for the next month and you say - why not dessert everyday? I'll tell you why not... you want your pants to fit come January. If you have a plate of cookies, go take them to someone in need of a little light this holiday season. That way you are doing something good and not putting a bunch of bad inside of you.

4. If you are worried about indulging too much in a particular dish - tell the party you will bring that item, and then make a reasonable amount and change the recipe to make it healthier. For example if you can't say no to the mountain of mashed potatoes, make mashed sweet potatoes instead and don't make an insane amount. Small swaps like that will help keep you on track this season. Did you know that when you are baking there are alternatives to all purpose flour and regular sugar? Oat flour, whole wheat flour, nut flours, gluten free flours ... easy substitutions and much healthier.

Scenario Three: The "New Years Resolution"

Just a quick statement to everyone making a New Years resolution to get healthier in 2014. DO NOT use that as an excuse to treat your body poorly for the next month. New Years resolutions are great because people decide to change something about their lives. But what I have been saying for the past month is... WHY WAIT. What is so special about January 1st that everything in your life must change that day. Don't use 'I will change in the New Year' as an excuse to over eat, under exercise, and over drink throughout this holiday season. Do not over indulge because you plan on quitting all your healthy habits in 2014, because what will happen is you will not be able to get yourself moving come January.

Scenario Four: New Years Eve

You know... one night of indulgence never hurt anyone. But, I will say if it's New Years Eve and you have been indulging in everything the holiday's have to offer for a month straight, perhaps you should rethink your choices. I'm telling you now, that you can't indulge at every event, party, and gathering because there are just too this time of the year. Pick your night to indulge and enjoy it.