Tag Archives: calories

6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Party Diet Disasters

22 Jan

Originally published on iVillage.com

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we spend more time consuming cocktails than Chris Parnell does macking on Magnolia.

While we can think of diet-friendlier ways to celebrate the holidays, the season would be a lot less merry (think ho-ho-hum) if it weren’t for the mulled wine, eggnog and grog that accompany end-of-year celebrations.

According to Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of 10 Habits that Mess Up a Woman’s Diet, alcohol comes in just behind fat in caloric density, weighing in at 7 calories per gram. Even denser is the amount of festivities squeezed into the month-long holiday season. Trying to navigate the party circuit with any amount of zest, says Somer, is likely to leave you with a 10-pound weight gain, a serious hangover, or both.

So what’s a party girl like you to do? Sip selectively.

Make friends before drinks
First and foremost: Understand that being the life of the party does not mean being the hostess with the mostest liquor in her bloodstream. “Know your limit in drinking, and don’t go over it,” says Leil Lowndes, author of How to Be a People Magnet and How to Talk to Anyone about Anything. “It may make you feel good at the moment, but you will suffer later.” Instead, she suggests having a pre-fete game plan to keep you occupied. “Set specific party goals like meeting three new people. Then, find a sociable friend to introduce you,” says Lowndes. By making the rounds before grabbing a round, you can easily pass an hour swept up in conversation. The longer you can delay the first trip to the bar, the better your chances for keeping a steady pace throughout the evening.

Mix it up
Avoid a calorie binge by mixing up your beverage lineup. “Balance every alcoholic drink with a glass of water,” say Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN, author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Superfoods. If flitting about the floor with a goblet of water in hand isn’t your idea of merriment-making, McIndoo suggests alternating your cocktail of choice with calorie-free drinks, spritzers or coolers. Make your own by mixing wine with tonic water. “You’re cutting calories but still have a drink,” she says.

Shake the snack attack
“Alcohol is a triple whammy,” says McIndoo. “Not only are there the calories from the alcohol, there are the calories from the mixer — be it juice, soda or even cream. Plus, alcohol often makes us hungrier, so we end up eating more when we drink, meaning even more calories!”

Don’t show up to the party ready to shovel every hors d’oeuvre within arm’s length into your mouth. “The combination of an empty belly and a buffet makes moderation virtually impossible,” says McIndoo. Instead, put something healthy in your stomach before going out. “Have half a sandwich, a small salad or even a handful of nuts before you go. That way, instead of gorging the minute you arrive, you’ll be able to pick and choose what really looks good to you and be better able to eat small amounts.”

Stage a hunger strike
Alcohol has this tricky way of making us think we’re hungry all of the time. When we drink, it increases our body’s production of saliva and gastric acids. This signals to our stomach that food is on the way. The walls of our stomach constrict in an effort to mix and digest the food, but when no food is actually en route, the contractions create a rumble that makes us think we’re hungry — even when we’re not. The result: calorie overload. “We eat as much as 200 extra calories during a meal when accompanied by one alcoholic drink,” says Somer. By already having something in your stomach when you arrive, you’ll be less prone to mistake the false alarm for true hunger.

Don’t chew the fat
If you are going to nibble, do not consume fatty foods, warns Somer. While this is always sage advice, it is especially pertinent when you’re sipping a cocktail or two. Alcohol is, according to Somer, the least filling of all calorie-containing substances. It is also one of the quickest to vacate the premises. While that may sound like a good thing, think of it this way: Your alcohol-packed beverage is cutting to the front of the metabolism line, leaving other, fattier foods stuck at the back, where they are less likely to be burned off and more likely to be stored as body fat. Steer clear of fat calories so you won’t have to say so long to your hard-earned smooth, supple thighs.

How to Be Like Mr. Miyagi

14 Jun

In my never-ending quest to outlive you all, I am turning myself into a human guinea pig. Through various studies around the world, researchers have determined a few things about the uber-elderly that I am adopting as my very own prescription for living to 125:

  1. Drink one glass of wine/day. See… not everything we love is bad for us. Thank you, wine god, Dionysus. I shall worship you daily.
  2. Do not smoke. I’ve always found the idea of barbecuing my insides rather creepy, so I’m quite happy to oblige on this one.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. My mom still looks fab in a bathing suit. I’m banking on genetics, and a ridiculous amount of squats.
  4. Don’t overeat. My ex-boyfriend used to say, “Eating is not a game,” after a particularly harrowing binge that left him hanging over the toilet all night. I usually only do that with liquor… and Mexican… and brownies… and coffee. Actually, I think maybe I just blocked out the times I’ve overeaten, then barfed in my mouth and swallowed. Wouldn’t you?
  5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Apparently the Okinawans (Why, yes, that IS where Mr. Miyagi is from. So wise, Daniel-san), who have the longest lifespan in the world eat an average of seven servings a day (though their RDA is 13 servings). Average. So you’ve got to figure there are old men out there eating whole bushels of seaweed to make up for the slackers who are only eating five salads a day. I better go stock up on produce – stat. Does someone have a truck I can borrow?
  6. Fat intake should account for 25 percent of my daily calories. And most of that should come from “good fat” sources. (Bad trans fat! Bad!). Guess it’s time to lay off the pints of Ben & Jerry’s S’mores. Sooo Goood. According to this fat calculator, that’s about 55 grams/day for me. I was already over my limit by 11am today, thanks to my cheese and peanut butter breakfast. Yes, I dip blocks of cheddar in peanut butter. Don’t judge. It’s a snack from childhood, which probably explains why I was always constipated.
  7. Regular physical activity, including weight training. Does walking to the subway station and back count? I also walk my dog around the block a few times a day, and have to climb four flights every time I come in the door. That’s got to count for something, right? After all, too much exercise causes heart damage, and that would seriously put a wrinkle in my live-until-125 plan. Some doctors say the optimal amount of exercise is working at a burn rate of 285 calories an hour for one hour 3-5 times/week. According to this chart, that means I can snorkel, play a game of social badminton, or walk 4 MPH. I think I can handle that. I choose snorkeling. Can someone get me a ticket to the Caribbean, please? I don’t think it’d be too pleasant here on the shores of Coney Island. Interestingly enough, for those of us who are extremely exercise-phobic, a reduced calorie diet is more important than exercise when it comes to life expectancy.
  8. Challenge my mind or, as Mom says whenever we do something stupid, “Use your brain!” Does idiotic writing count? I would play Scrabble, but Ryan is so competitive it stresses me out. Which brings us to the next rule.
  9. No stress allowed! I am a serious stress case. I go through bouts of insomnia, get heart palpitations and hives almost daily, and pretty much worry my life away. If exercise doesn’t curb it, I guess it’s time to take up meditation. Snoooooozeville! Luckily, according to this study, mindless work is more damaging to your longevity than office stress is. Just don’t tell your boss that.
  10. Stay positive and happy. Hah, easier said than done. This one’s going to be fun. I hope antidepressants are allowed. Oh, shit, I think that was a double dose of negativity right there, wasn’t it? Guess I’d better start a stinkin’ gratitude journal. Yawn. Cynicism is so much more fun. You guys aren’t going to stop reading if I get all happy, are you?
  11. Be a social butterfly. This ought to be fun considering what a neurotically antisocial person I am. No, really, I am. Think about it: when was the last time I answered the phone or called you back? Exactly.
  12. Sleep and sleep with. Regular sex and regular sleep. I know the recommended amount of shuteye is seven or eight hours. Just how much sex are we talking? Some studies say a few times a week. If she doesn’t orgasm, though, I say it doesn’t count.

Great, so all I’ve got left to do today then is have sex, write down some things that I’m happy for (yay), do a crossword, drink a glass of wine, vomit up my cheese and peanut butter, and eat five more servings of veggies. I feel younger already.

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