With the arrival of the festive season comes a slew of Christmas dining promotions to spoil us into a reverie of never-ending feasts that will not put a damper on our healthy eating goals. However, we know this is nothing but a fantasy. It is inevitable that we will be invited to one Christmas lunch after another, followed by dinner parties and drinks. And all that plethora of good food is bound to make us ring in the new year with a belly full of excessive calories.
An Indulgent, Guilt-Free Christmas Meal
Of course, we are not saying you should not dig in into all those delicious Christmas spreads. The festive season is about enjoying yourselves, especially after spending the rest of the year bent over your work desk and dealing with late nights and early mornings — you deserve an indulgent treat. However, if you are determined to stay committed to your healthy eating goals, restraining yourself from getting double portions of everything is a must, particularly when you are dining out.
This might seem like an impossible feat — who cares about our expanding waistlines when we have all that good food staring us in the face? — but there are ways for you to stay true to your healthy eating goals this festive season and still have room for a guilt-free sugary dessert.
Do Your Homework
Before heading out for your Christmas meal, take a look at the restaurant’s menu first so you have a better idea of what is available. This way, you can decide on what to eat beforehand. This will prevent you from giving into your hunger pangs and the tempting smells of mouthwatering food that will greet you as you walk through the restaurant’s door. You can also browse through healthier alternatives you can swap your food with if the restaurant is serving a set menu specially for the festive season.
Have a Healthy Snack
Sometimes, what fails us from sticking to our healthy eating goals is the sounds of our hungry bellies as they growl for some much-needed food when we are at the restaurant. When that happens, all the commitment we made to eat healthier goes out the window with that plate of roasted vegetables we were planning to choose as our side dish. One way to combat this is by having a small, healthy snack before you head out for your meal. For example, you can munch on a handful of nuts or settle your growling tummy with a bit of fruit. This will help you from getting irrational hunger cravings and allow you to truly focus on choosing a healthier meal for yourself.
While trying to eat healthier is an admirable goal, it is just as important for you to not be too strict on yourself. Do not restrict your food intake to the extent whereby you are counting every single calorie of each food you are eating, or forcing yourself to only the healthier options. For instance, if you feel like eating the grilled chicken meal instead of the “healthier” option of fish, just go for it. But, instead of the usual accompanying side of fries or mashed potatoes, substitute it with a side of vegetables instead. Giving in to every single craving you have is not always a good thing, but you should still listen to your body’s needs instead of ignoring them completely.
Engage in the Spirit of Sharing
Food portions served in restaurants tend to be larger than what you would normally eat when you prepare your own food. This makes controlling your food intake even harder because it is natural for us to want to clean off everything in our sight. So, the easiest way to ensure you do not go overboard while dining out this festive season? Share your food with your dining companions! This will not only help you avoid eating the entire serving of food but also allow you to enjoy a wider variety of dishes. Order a number of different foods and split them up so everyone gets equal healthier-sized portions.
Stick to One Sweet Treat
Don’t worry, we are not going to tell you to skip dessert during your Christmas dine-out feasts (we know better than that!). After all, what is a Christmas feast without it ending with a sweet treat? Plus, healthy eating does not entail completely forgoing all sugary indulgences. The key is moderation and knowing how to balance your food intake so you do not end up in a sugar overdose by the end of the meal. What you should do is choose just one dessert to end your meal with, and do not force yourself to go for the option with the least amount of sugar and calories. If you have been eyeing the big slice of chocolate layered cake coated with thick frosting and topped with chocolate ganache, just go for it, we say. A sugary-filled treat for just one night is not going to do your body any harm, as long as you stick to the rest of your healthy eating plans after that.