How to manage holiday meals: the right strategies

Elena Casiraghi, Ph.D. - Equipe Enervit
In front of a festive table, it's difficult to curb our desire not to indulge, especially if we want to keep fit. Instinct would lead us to binge, enjoying every single dish, from starters to desserts. This impulse, however, is promptly addressed by our sense of duty, which is within us; we are aware that guilt could arise from the excessive intake of unprofitable calories, sugars, and saturated fats.

But I want to give you some good news: giving up is not necessary. It is indeed possible to enjoy the festive season by honoring good food. To do so, we need to change how we view food. As we have learned by now, food is not a competition. That is why we need to turn it into our ally. So, there are two solutions. The first is to act strategically. The second is to give value to the indulgence, honoring it for what it is: the party meal. The choice is yours.

Strategies for balancing holiday meals

Slimming down during the holidays is probably tricky, yet maintaining your physical health, without accumulating excessive fat mass, is an entirely reachable goal. Here are a few tips to help you maintain a balance and enjoy the festive season.
It may seem bizarre, but even at Christmas time you can avoid excessive increases in insulin levels thanks to some attention. The secret is to combine carbohydrates (preferably the most advantageous ones) with a portion of protein. You can start, for example, by eating a few slices of smoked salmon or prawns, which are typical dishes for Christmas hors d'oeuvres. In addition, the fibers in vegetables have the power to slow down the glycemic response triggered by ingested sugars.
Give color
Scientific studies show that certain spices, rich in polyphenols, can also reduce the glycemic response following a meal. For an effective result, you would need to take entire packs of turmeric, cinnamon or ginger. But using them even in small quantities in our dishes is undoubtedly a first step. In addition, concentrated and purified forms of polyphenols should be considered for greater effectiveness.
Small plates, big decorations
A visual trick to reduce the amount of food and gratify both tummy and palate at the same time is to use smaller plates, such as hors d'oeuvre plates, for the courses that follow it and add Christmas decorations around it.
At a good pace
Between meals, take advantage of a breath of fresh air - exercise is essential for optimal cell function. Take a 20-30-minute walk at a good pace, preferably with a chat, or use interval training. Alternatively, get ahead of the game by doing a training session on an empty stomach on the day of your big meal.
Water is second only to oxygen as a substance needed for survival and optimal tissue function. Taking a few glasses before a meal will promote early satiety.

Indulge yourself

Indulging at the table is more than allowed! Transgression, occasionally, is even what is required from you. Discipline trains. We could say that "naughtiness" is to nutrition what a rest day (or session) is to training. One cannot exist without the other, or rather one needs the other. As you already know, any form of balance is simply the average of highs and lows. We can fearlessly consider that there are times of advantageous eating alternating with times of 'slacking off'. The latter tend to weigh more heavily so they should be accepted, yes, but not done constantly.
To claim back a positive relationship with food, we need to go back to the original meaning of "indulgence": the food of the feast, which can and should also be ours. The occasion of feasting, the celebration, presupposes by its very nature to offer itself as a special, not ordinary situation. It is a parenthesis that serves to conclude and preserve in the best way possible the routine of weekdays, one in which the constancy of a balanced diet prevails.

If the latter is a simple and practical way of maintaining a balanced diet during the week, the "snag" is the free meal we can allow ourselves on the day of rest. And a day of celebration. A legitimate luxury which, in synergy with the careful and healthy daily approach which allows us to achieve and maintain a full balance, both emotional and, as I have already mentioned, metabolic. We must conceive of it and live it differently: it will no longer be a subtraction that takes something away from us, but rather something to give us an extra gear. For complete happiness.

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