The holiday season is here, and with that comes plenty of festive gatherings and parties! These social activities are a great way to catch up with friends and family, and also to enjoy favorite holiday dishes and desserts. But don’t let a calendar full of parties spell diet disaster. You can make healthy choices that allow you to eat in moderation and maintain your pre-holiday weight. Being aware of what you eat and making conscious choices are the keys to success. Here are some tips to help you eat smart at holiday parties without missing out on any of the fun!
- Hosting the party is the best way to ensure there will be healthy foods on the table. Prepare two or three traditional holiday dishes, but also offer several healthy dishes to balance them out.
- Fill up on healthy food. Load your plate with fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and then add a few indulgences in small quantities.
- Offer to bring a dish. Think about how you can make one of your favorite dishes healthier by substituting high-fat ingredients or added sugar with lower caloric alternatives.
- Eat before you go. Have a light meal or snack before going to a party. Don’t arrive hungry—that makes it tougher to stick to your diet.
- Choose appetizers and desserts wisely. These foods are usually small in portion size, but high in calories. Avoid fried foods and sugary desserts; stick with veggies and a bit of dip or hummus, or take just half of a slice of pie.
- No second helpings. Fill your plate just once, and discard it when you’re done. Having an empty plate in hand can be an excuse to fill it up and continue eating when you aren’t hungry.
- Organize or participate in an activity.Some fun suggestions are touch football or ping pong, or offer to supervise a game or craft project for kids during the party. Any activity gives you the chance to move around, burn some calories, and take your mind off the buffet.
Remember, an all or nothing approach usually doesn’t work. It may cause you to feel deprived and then overindulge. Plan to have a few bites of the foods you enjoy most, balance them with healthier options, watch your portions, and don’t be tempted by foods you can do without. If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching program, reach out to your Wellness Coach for more information on how to make smart food choices at holiday gatherings.
Have a question for a Health Advocate? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and your question may be the topic of an upcoming “Ask a Health Advocate” column!