With Christmas merrymaking just around the corner, everyone buckles up for the Battle of the Bulge. This is the enjoyable, finger-licking war, almost all of us wage every time the –ber months come in. The peak of table revelry happens in mid-month of December, when tables are overflowing with edible blessings shared by families, friends, and neighbors.

Since a lot of us look forward to these licensed food trips, a long-standing reminder would be to consider our health our greatest wealth, and that our bodies are merely on loan. With the holidays upon us, here are some tips for our extended food trips:

  • Have a fruit basket at every party. Fruits and veggies’ are chock-full of phytochemicals and are friendly to the body. So make sure you require yourself – yes, require – to eat a couple of fruits at every meal even if you’re dying to finish off the leche flan.
  • Adopt the “Water Rule”. Before indulging in some serious foodfests, make it a habit to drink a glass or two of water before the meal. Water also contributes to that feeling of fullness, so down a glass again after a meal to minimize snacking after.
  • Sprinkle on the herbs and spices. Choose from a variety of herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, chili, mint to give your dishes that extra oomph. Commercially prepared seasonings, cooking aids, flavoring definitely have higher sugar and salt content. The high amounts of salt and sugar also create a craving for more soda or artificial juices during parties. Such herbs cost a few pesos more, but in the long run, not getting sick after the holidays would be cheaper.
  • Go organic. If you have the budget and available options go for organic rice, organic noodles and eggs, muscovado sugar, and wheat bread. The lesser chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers we put into our bodies through our food, the better.
  • Bring out the vino. If you feel meh with just water, then have a shot of red wine, which is known to burn fat and lower blood pressure.
  • Have a “Meal Strategy”. Vegetable salads are good sources of enzymes that help in digestion. You could adopt a rule of thumb of eating fruits first, then moving on to the salad after before proceeding to the main courses. These servings would prepare the digestive juices well, and at the same time give you a satisfied feeling. It will definitely put the brakes on binge eating.
  • Fruitify/Veggify your recipes. Send or share to family and friends goodies like cookies, cakes, and pies with fruits or vegetables as one of the major ingredients. It’ll put a spin on your beloved recipes and sneak in more fiber and nutrition.
  • Bring out the videoke. Instead of going for round two on the tempting, rich food served, entertain the group with a song or two (a song would be more or less 3 minutes), and two songs would then be a 6-minute time out that would make you realize you don’t need a second serving of chocolate cake.
  • Stay away from politics … for now. Keep your mouth active by enjoying the company of family and friends by sharing stories, jokes, anecdotes, and family updates. Refrain from talking about potentially divisive issues like politics, religion, or even family touchy issues. Getting worked up about a topic could restrict blood flows, heighten emotions, cause difficulty in breathing, disrupt digestion, and make facial and other body muscles tense, not to mention spoil the Christmassy mood.
  • Laugh a lot and often. Moments of real laughter and happy interactions with family members and close friends give off good energy that stimulates the body positively. With the whole body system relaxed, holiday stress eating can be avoided.
  • Parlor games, please. It may seem too old-fashioned or even a hassle to prepare but joining games, playing Game Master, or volunteering to hand out prizes take you away from the buffet table. Fun games strengthen bonds, give everyone a good laugh, and burn excess calories right off the bat.

Making sure our clothes still fit after the holidays need not spell deprivation. A big change is usually made up of little adjustments here and there that don’t take much effort, just mindfulness. Aside from the standing reminder of proper exercise and enough sleep, an equally essential factor to consider is a balanced, nutritious diet, one that is doable even well into the New Year.

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