What if I told you changing what you eat before and after a holiday party can help you to make healthy choices and reduce the negative affects of “indulgent” food on your body. Let’s talk about how to set you up for a healthy holiday season!
“Saving Calories for the Good Stuff“
Do you eat any differently if you know that you’re going to a holiday party or family dinner that night?
I’ve been a nutrition coach for over 15 years now and one of the most common answers to this question is skipping breakfast or even eating ultra light throughout the day so that you can really indulge at the party.
People say that they’re “saving their calories,” “saving room for the ‘good stuff,” and they don’t want to “fill up too much before the party.”
Let me tell you how this plays out from a nutrition perspective.
From a Nutrition Perspective
By skipping meals the day of a holiday party, you can easily throw your blood sugar levels out of balance.
This is going to make you feel tired, moody (hangry anyone?) so by the time you get to the party, you’re making a b-line for the closest dish and you’re likely not holding back.
At that point EVERYTHING tastes so good, that you’re going to town.
You’ll likely get an initial boost of energy because those blood sugar levels are starting to rise.
The problem is they spike so fast that before the meal is over you’re feeling stuff and exhausted.
Let’s explore a different approach.
What to Eat for Breakfast
Eating a protein based breakfast within the first hour of waking up can support stable blood sugar levels not only that morning but throughout the day too.
That first meal of the day that so many people are tempted to skip is what can help to set you up for success throughout the day.
I’ve shared many times before that I eat a very non-traditional breakfast.
I don’t eat gluten, dairy or eggs so that eliminates 90% of the Standard American breakfast options including bagels, eggs, waffles, pancakes, and even yogurt and cereal.
If I’m in a pinch for time I’ll have a smoothie with coconut milk, berries, banana, spinach and collagen protein.
So collagen is my protein here.
I also have really come to enjoy leftovers for breakfast.
Or I’ll make a chicken potpie or my version of shepherd’s pie which has lots of veggies and cauliflower mash on the top instead of the traditional mashed potatoes.
What to Eat for Lunch
For lunch I’m focusing on lots of veggies and again healthy fat and quality protein.
Honestly, most times this is a salad with leafy greens, carrots, cucumber, celery, tomato, apple, avocado and chicken.
This helps me to feel like I got a good serving of veggies in before the event. The fiber in these veggies are going to feed the good bacteria in my gut so they can still stay ahead of the bad bacteria that may get fed at the party through either alcohol or other things that you may choose to eat that our outside of your normal routine.
The fiber in the veggies along with a lot of water throughout the day can help you to stay ahead of getting constipated from the food that you may eat at the party.
And the healthy fat and protein are also helping to keep those blood sugar levels stable.
And here’s the thing the salad is still a relatively light meal.
I mean if you typically skip lunch because you want to look or feel extra good in your holiday outfit, the salad is still going to be light but it’ll help to keep you satiated,
What to Eat Just Before the Party
Now for the evening it depends upon what time the party is, but 9 times out of 10 since I’ve been following the Wahls Protocol, I have something to eat before a party.
It’s something light that still gives me the option to eat if I see something that I want at the party.
But it’s also enough to hold me over if they don’t have anything that I can eat.
I’ll try to focus on veggies and protein here.
I won’t go too heavy on the fat because I don’t want to be full, I just want the veggies and protein to get me a little something and again to keep those blood sugars stable.
So an example of this might be a small piece of chicken because I typically always have chicken in the fridge throughout the week, or I might have an apple and a turkey jerky stick, or I’ll have a small portion of whatever leftovers that we have in the fridge.
If I’m really skeptical of what I’ll be able to eat at a party I might have a bigger snack like a full smoothie or again leftovers.
The main goal throughout the day is to support balanced blood sugar levels.
This helps to reduce inflammation in the body which is a big goal in managing MS, but it’s going to help keep your hunger, mood and cravings in check too.
And you are far more likely to make better decisions when you’re not hangry.
One last thing before the party, I might take some digestive enzymes before the part to just give my gut a little help in digesting food that was prepared outside of my kitchen.
What to Eat the Day After the Party
Now let’s talk about what to eat after the party.
One of the biggest things I do to recover from either eating too much or eating foods that are outside my norm, is to boost my water.
I imagine it flushing out my body.
It can give me a boost of energy, and even more so, it can help me go to the bathroom and that just feels like a good emptying out.
So hydrate well, and while I likely would repeat a day very similar to what I had the day before, I also would increase my leafy greens because they are loaded with so many vitamins and minerals that can support cellular health and that in turn helps energy and mental clarity – two things that may not be the sharpest the day after a holiday gathering.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Share in the comments below what helps you to make the healthiest food choices at a holiday party? Also, did any of the tips shared here in this article inspire you? I’d love to hear which one you’ll try for yourself. Share below. I love hearing from you!