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Katelyn Sander

DIY Party Survival Kit

Living Well

Written by: Meg Sharp, Wellbeing Consultant, Cambridge Group of Clubs

It’s been a stressful, challenging year. Dog gone-it we want you to let loose and have some fun; look and feel fabulous for the entire decadent, playful season.

Colourfully curated cocktails, wines with great legs, perfectly aged cheeses, inspired dinners, and over-the-top desserts. That’s some serious fun.

Morning headaches and all-day food craving that won’t abate. Rotten sleeps that make your cortisol spike and encourage you to skip your workouts. Dress pants and shimmery cocktail dresses that are suddenly too tight. Irritable mood when your kids ask you to help them decorate the house with holidays lights. Seriously NOT fun.

And so, for your reading pleasure, we present a closet full of fabulous ideas for how to navigate this party season so you can balance the high bar while avoiding the face plants.  As there is no one-size-fits-all, we’ve designed quite an array. Try a few on for size and keep the ones that work.

  • Dry Prep. No, I’m not talking about getting a fabulous blow dry that gives your hairstyle ridiculous volume and hours of staying power. Rather, I’m suggesting you plan on avoiding alcohol completely for the 3-4+ days leading up to the party event(s?!). Beyond saving you the extra empty calories, this strategy encourages better sleep on those sober nights, keeping cortisol levels low, blood sugar levels and food cravings in check, energy and metabolism high, and facilitating high quality, intense workouts. Heading into the party feeling like a rockstar makes you more resilient. The negative side effects will be more manageable. Even better – when you feel fabulous – you’re more likely to make healthier choices.
  • Plan & Execute. Schedule (and complete) a workout the day after EVERY party. If you can exercise in the morning, all the better. Exercise will help balance some of the hormonal side effects resulting from the booze and poor-quality sleep. It will help clear your head, your headache, encourage water consumption, and manage carbohydrate and fat cravings.

  • Choose Favourites. There are a number of treats that can turn your head at a party: alcohol, desert, decadent dinner, irresistible cheeses, and hors d’oeuvres. Choose two on any given night and enjoy them to the fullest. Skip or be extremely careful/virtuous with the others. 
  • Stick with Simple. Avoid the sugary, booze laden cocktails. Stick to wine, beer, or something-and soda. If possible, choose ONE drink only. Stick to that.
  • Water down your tummy, not the fun! Drink a HUGE glass of water before you go or as soon as you arrive. Not only does this help calm food cravings, it will slow your sipping down. Alternate each glass of booze with water. 

  • Fake Drink. If social pressure to drink is an issue, drink sparkling water or soda on the rocks, in a short glass with lime. It’s no one’s business that it doesn’t have 2 shots of vodka in it?! Beware the “mocktails”. Many create their flavour using lots of sugar.
  • Anticipate Fun. Schedule something fun the next morning. Something you are REALLY looking forward to, that is also incompatible with a hangover. If it involves physical activity outside, even better.

  • Eat Before. Ensure you have a filling, high protein, high fiber lunch. Or have a healthy snack in the afternoon. Often our party strategies are polar opposite to this: We might even skip lunch in order to create room/save calories for the decadent snacks and dinner to come. This will typically backfire on many levels. Alcohol on an empty stomach goes directly into your system. It will intensify intoxification AND hangover symptoms. The high alcohol hit also stimulates appetite and diminishes willpower. Even in the absence of any alcohol, an incredibly hungry body will often overconsume. Relative to someone who had a nutritious, high protein, high fiber lunch or snack, the person who skipped this meal or snack will ultimately consume far more total daily calories.

  • Cleanse your Palate. Once you’ve had what you feel is a reasonable number of hors d’oeuvres, pop a mint or chew on a piece of gum. Once you’ve cleansed your palate, you’re less likely to go

back in for more. Plus chewing the gum for 5-10 minutes will give your body a chance to signal that it isn’t hungry anymore.

  • Drop it. Put your fork down between bites. Put your drink down between sips. This seemingly simple strategy takes some practice. And is incredibly effective for keeping your intake moderate without feeling like you’re restricting anything.

As with everything in life, avoid black and white thinking. There’s no perfect person, nor perfect party behaviour. If you overindulge, have a good giggle about it. Drink a big glass of water. Pop some B vitamins and Advil if you can find it. Sweat like crazy. And try, try, try again. The times when you are successful with your moderation? Pay keen attention to how good you feel the next day. That more than anything might be what helps you stay on that balance beam.

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