On date nights, I’m convinced cooks and waiters at our favorite restaurants sigh and roll their eyes when they see my wife and me walk through the door.
Kristen is the world’s finickiest eater, and I’ve spent more than half my life making fun of her for this.
She uses her purse to smuggle in fat-free salad dressing.
She asks chefs to cook things that aren’t on the menu. She once sent a meal back three times because the cook kept forgetting to prepare it without butter.
“Aren’t you afraid the cook is wiping your turkey burger bun under his armpit before he sends it out?” I frequently ask.
She just shrugs and keeps eating secure in the fact that in the unlikely event this happens, armpit sweat certainly has far fewer calories than butter.
While I poke fun at her zealous approach to healthy eating, the truth is I’d probably be better off if I followed her lead.
Especially this time of year, the two months between Halloween and New Year’s Day that one local trainer calls “The Eating Season.”
“People get busier and start missing workouts and eating differently,” said Amanda Serven of Tacoma’s Trident Athletics.
In fact, when I asked Serven for ideas to survive The Eating Season with minimal impact, she started describing tips that sounded pretty familiar.
“So there’s this woman I know who brings her own fat-free salad dressing to restaurants and holiday parties,” I said. “Are you saying I should stop making fun of her?”
“Absolutely. That sounds like somebody who is very dedicated to her routine.”
Sticking to your healthy eating and exercise routine in the face of busy schedules and holiday feasts is an ideal way to look and feel better once the holidays pass.
So what if people poke fun at you for being a little different. Who wants to be normal if that means packing on a few extra pounds?
The average American gains one to two pounds during the holidays, according to several studies. Here are eight tips to make sure you’re not average:
Don’t wait until Jan. 1 to start working on your goal of being healthier.
Serven says Trident Athletics starts focusing on handling holiday eating habits on Nov. 1 each year with a program called Natural November.
This helps their clients get into a healthy eating and exercise routine before Thanksgiving and hopefully continue it through the holidays.
“People really see a positive a change,” Serven said. “... Start now.”
You don’t have to diagram a complicated exercise and eating program to find success over the holidays.
Serven says many of the members at Trident have found success starting with a simple goal such as giving up alcohol or just eating more greens.
“By doing this, you can start some great new habits during the holidays,” she said.
A standard Thanksgiving dinner is pretty nutritious as long as you don’t overeat. Turkey is a good source of protein and hopefully you’ll have the option of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Serven recommends eating protein first, followed by greens and saving starchy foods for last to fill up on healthier foods and potentially decrease your intake of the other foods.
BAKE A PALEO PIE
The biggest holiday eating problem (other than eating too much), Serven says, is dessert.
A proponent of the Paleolithic diet, Serven recommends preparing traditional food in healthier ways.
One of her favorites: The Paleo pumpkin pie with homemade whip cream.
The popular paleo diet relies on foods such as fish, meat, eggs, veggies, nuts and fruit while avoiding grains, dairy, refined sugar and processed oils.
The paleo version of pumpkin pie can help you recover faster from Thanksgiving, Serven said.
DON’T BANK CALORIES
Serven says she often hears stories about people who skip meals throughout the day with the intention of eating their entire daily allotment of calories at that evening’s holiday party.
This is a poor strategy, she says.
Inevitably, people still end up eating too much at the party because they feel so hungry when they arrive.
“It’s better to eat a little throughout the day,” Serven said.
Don’t mindlessly shovel hors d’oeuvres into your mouth while you’re chatting with friends. Pay attention to everything you eat, and if it helps, move the conversation away from the table.
And don’t feel obligated to eat anything just because it’s tradition.
SCOUT THE BUFFET
Entering the holiday buffet line before doing a little reconnaissance can be a recipe for disaster. Scouting the buffet will give you an idea of what you want and what you can skip so you don’t emerge from the line with tower of food.
It also helps to take on the persona of a food snob at these parties. Pass on foods you can eat any times and only eat reasonable portions of foods you truly enjoy. And if it’s not as good as you expected or you start feeling full, be a little different and stop eating.
BRING HEALTHY FOOD
The only way to be sure there will be healthy options at your holiday party is to bring them yourself.
Many holiday parties are potluck affairs, so this is no problem. But even if they aren’t, arriving with a healthy dish or even purse loaded with salad dressings is definitely a forgivable offense.