December 10, 2015 at 11:02 am EST | by Gerard Burley
The most wonderful time?
holiday party, gay news, Washington Blade

With a little strategic planning, you can survive the holidays without gaining 10 pounds.

It’s the most wonderful and calorie-dense time of the year. Unless you live on an island all alone, you will be subject to the great holiday party over and over again.

As one who loves a good party, but who also loves a good set of six-pack abs, I always have a dilemma during this time. Do I not go? Do I not eat? Do I not drink? Can I not go (I have a severe case of FOMO)? Can I not eat? Can I not drink? I always had so many questions, yet few answers. Luckily over the years, through trial and error, I’ve picked up a few tips to help you not only enjoy the holiday season, but also prevent you from looking like Santa Claus by the end of it.

Eat before you eat — This may be the single best piece of advice you ever get from me besides not wearing horizontal stripes, of course. Always eat something before you go to any party because a hungry you is an overeating, over-drinking, and lets face it, just-not-cute you.  There are scientific studies that show that when people eat a low-calorie snack before attending a social dinner they make better decisions.  Just think about it this way, when your stomach is empty, your mind can’t think. This prevents you from choosing the carrots and instead races you over to the cookies. My two go-to pre-meals are a protein shake or a cup of soup. This usually holds me over enough that I still can nibble at the party, but the pasta, sweets and other love handle-building foods just won’t look as appealing.

Small plates please — Sometimes I’m surprised at how many people don’t know this trick, but the less plate you have, the less food you will eat. At any event I go to, I always reach for the smallest plate around and eat from that. It allows me to still taste all the foods that may not be as good for me, aka the yummy stuff, but with a built-in portion control. If you’re very disciplined, think about filling half your plate with healthier food and the other half with whatever you want. This will help balance out the calorie total by the end of the night.

Find the soda water — Soda water has become more and more popular over the years.  Besides its obvious appeal of being a calorie-free mixer, it also makes you look way cooler.  My two rules for how to use soda water are first, cut any mixer that you normally use in half with soda water. The mixers can many times hold more sugar and calories than the liquor and besides I wouldn’t dare cut your alcohol. I’m a tough trainer, but I do have a heart. Second, if you are a wine drinker, alternate each glass of wine with a glass of soda water. This will keep you hydrated and slow down your wine consumption. The way those wine glasses get filled at parties, you could easily go from glass number two to glass number 12 in no time.

We all love to enjoy this time, but the best present to your self would be to avoid the calorie gain this season. During this time of holiday cheer, don’t forget that your health is still at the top of your list of things to be thankful for. Let’s eat clean and appreciate the bodies we are so lucky to have.

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