New Year’s resolution? Eat (and drink!) responsibly

By: Ashley Newport Dec 29, 2010
  Article

Don’t deprive yourself on the biggest party night of the year – just know your limits

It’s the party everyone looks forward to, and not just for the company. However, those who fret about their waistlines need not deprive themselves on the night the year draws to a close…

The food

When someone mentions the word “diet” on New Year’s Eve, fellow party guests may scoff and roll their eyes — and sometimes with good reason. It is only one night a year (and one generally followed by a weight-centered resolution that may or may not be kept), but it does follow close on the heels of the holiday season, a normally gluttonous event. The key to enjoying the food and drink laden festival isn’t over or under-indulgence, but rather mindfulness and moderation. And believe us, neither are as difficult as they seem.

“It is just one day,” affirms Dundas, Ont.-based registered dietitian Shannon Crocker, “but it is couched over a month of holiday events, so if you’re going to indulge, keep on track for the rest of the time.”

Keeping on track throughout the month may be difficult, but it can be done with a little knowledge, moderation and willpower. If you have a weakness for eggnog, try to remember that just one cup of the two per cent variety (which is less than a standard tall glass) is 260 calories alone, and deep-fried snacks (party staples throughout the season) can be anywhere from 100-300 calories for a few items. So don’t indulge every day or go overboard when you do. As for New Years itself, Crocker recommends being mindful of the potential calories long before the party starts.

“Work out that morning,” says Crocker. “Go for a walk, go skating, just get your body moving. Also, don’t skip meals to save calories for the evening, because whether you eat all day or all at once, too many calories is too many calories.” 

Crocker recommends eating a protein-heavy meal before the party, as it might prevent an acute case of the munchies later on. Then, when you get to the party, pick an indulgence and try not to load up with too many other snacks. “With appetizers, think kid-size portions,” adds Crocker. “Use a small plate so less looks and feels like more, and don’t sit near the food. Mingle with the guests.”

The drinks

New Year’s Eve isn’t just famous for the finger foods, but also for the plentiful booze. However, for anyone who isn’t the designated driver, there are ways to better “pick your poison” with your waistline in mind.

“Know your limits,” advises Crocker, “and try to drink something else, like water, in between alcoholic beverages.” As for alcoholic drinks with fewer calories, more health conscious partygoers can choose light beers (about 99 calories a bottle) or mixed cocktails made with sugar-free or diet juice or pop. As for drinks to avoid, Crocker advises against consuming anything creamy or frothy (mudslides, brown cows, etc.), sugary frozen cocktails (like daiquiris or margaritas) or beverages with high pure alcoholic content (most martinis). Also, if the party gets wild and people break out the shot glasses, limit your participation to a swig or two, as a little over one ounce of a liquor can be close to 200 calories. Some good news for wine drinkers is that a 150 ml glass of either red or white has about 100-110 calories, so wine might be a better alternative. Also, remember that excess drinking can lead to over-eating, so be mindful of the effect one too many beers can have on your appetite. Pop a piece of gum if you know you’re full but still feel tempted by the sausage rolls.

If you’re hosting…

“Put out healthier foods,” says Crocker. “You can put out a veggie tray with dip, fruit trays, big pretzels with roasted red pepper hummus, stuffed mushrooms with low-fat cottage cheese, and goat cheese on baked crackers or homemade crostinis.”

As for what to avoid, Crocker lists off the usual suspects. “Avoid anything deep fried, as well as frozen appetizers with puffed pastry, nuts and cream cheese-based dips. Also, when the party is over, send the leftovers home with guests so you won’t be tempted to nibble for the next few days!”

Ashley Newport is a freelance journalist based in Toronto – well, in a city a little west of Toronto. She’s been writing for two years about almost everything. Her favourite topics include politics, society, entertainment, food and health. She loves to find out new things about nutrition, because she knows how important it is to know more about the health benefits of the foods you love. Her work can be found in Foodservice and Hospitality Magazine and a small Oakville community online paper located somewhere in cyberspace (Google Ashley to find it!).