As the calendar books up with soirées and shindigs, you may see visions of pigs in a blanket, spiked eggnog, and cookies. Here, top nutritionists share tricks to indulge wisely and spare the scale.
WHAT TO EAT
WEEK BEFORE: If you’re going to wear something formfitting for the festivities, avoid foods that make you bloated, recommends New York nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg. Top offenders: artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, salty foods, sugar, carbs, dairy, and, ironically,many of the veggies gobbled up with good intentions. “Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale are all gas-inducing,” warns Middleberg. “And those giant chopped lunch salads can be just as bloating. Cut the lettuce amount in half.” What should you have? Lean proteins like salmon; potassium-rich foods like avocado, bananas, and asparagus, which prevent water retention; digestion-aiding fennel and chia; and drink lots of water to help flush your system.
PRE-PARTY: If you go to a party hungry, you’re more likely to impulsively grab unhealthy eats. Have a good-for-you meal before, even if you’re leaving directly from work. “Order a second meal at lunch, like a salad with shrimp, and keep it in the fridge,” suggests New York psychologist and nutrition expert Stephen Gullo. “Or bring low-calorie snacks with protein and fiber that help stabilize blood sugar.” His favorites: GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbread, Bonbel Mini Babybel cheeses, Fulfill iced tea, and Chocolite sugar-free protein bars.
FIVE EASY WAYS TO GET A FLATTER STOMACH
AT THE PARTY: Arrive fashionably late so you don’t overeat while waiting for things to get started, advises Gullo, and carry a clutch: “It gives your hands something to do.” If you’re hungry, Middleberg recommends filling a plate (so you can see exactly how much you’re eating) with healthy foods rather than mindlessly reaching for bites passed on platters. Opt for olives, crudités, and shrimp for the night, but don’t overdo it because the calories can still add up, she cautions. If you see a somewhat sinful indulgence that you simply can’t resist, “keep it to three servings maximum,” adds Gullo. “If it’s fried or in a crust, each may be 100 calories or more.”
YOUR DRINKING STRATEGY
MAKE A PLAN: Know not only how much you’re going to drink but when. If you have multiple parties and a one-drink limit, save it for the last event to keep your inhibitions in check. And if sipping on something makes you more comfortable, start with a low-calorie mocktail, like club soda with a splash of cranberry juice. Or try tomato juice: “The viscosity helps kill hunger and cravings,” explains Gullo. WHAT TO DRINK: A distilled liquor like tequila and vodka contains no sugar, which can contribute to alcohol-induced hunger and hangovers. And we tend to sip liquor slowly, Gullo says. Mix it with soda, not calorie-laden tonic. Wine is the next best option, and the bubbles in the sparkling varieties have the benefit of being a little more filling. The worst choices? Beer and sugar-heavy cocktails, such as those with more than one added juice. Alternate every alcoholic drink with a glass of water, one for one, and drink at least 500mL of water before bed.
HOW TO CURE A HANGOVER
THE DAY AFTER
If you overindulge and wake up yearning for diet redemption, first hydrate, then follow Middleberg’s recovery menu: For breakfast, have two hard-boiled eggs and a piece of fruit. For lunch, make a salad with a protein and avocado, plus olive oil and lemon juice. In the afternoon, snack on 20 raw nuts. For dinner, eat a lean protein with a veggie, like salmon with spinach. Finish every meal with a glass of warm water with lemon, and avoid complex carbs and alcohol. Abide by this plan for one to three days and you’ll start off 2016 better than ever.
MISTY COPELAND, Ballet Dancer
“I stick to sparkling wine—cocktails have too many empty calories—olives, and a tartare of some sort. And water, always.”
GEORGINA CHAPMAN, Marchesa Designer
“After a late night of socializing and margaritas, I visit Dr. Frank Lipman for IV vitamin infusions. They boost my energy.”
LEANDRA MEDINE, Blogger and Author
“My go-to is tequila with lemon; if I drink wine, I’m more hungry for sweets after. I have a strict one-drink policy on weeknights.”