I love holiday parties — getting together with friends to laugh and relax through the stress of the season. But how do you navigate the spread of appetizers and cocktails and make healthy choices? As I said in my previous article on healthy holiday tips, I don’t think avoiding every calorie-laden goodie is a successful method of getting through the season. It’s all about making smart choices in both your food and spirit selections.
Here are my quick tips for eating at a holiday/cocktail party:
* If possible, eat beforehand. Stick with something like a basic salad with a lean protein. It will fill you up, but not so much that you can’t still enjoy an appetizer or two.
* If you can’t eat beforehand, load up on vegetables or salad and eat smaller portions of the cheeses, meats and carbs.
* Socialize! You will find that if you talk more, you will eat more slowly. When you eat slowly, you are more aware of when you are full, and will not eat as much.
* Pace yourself. Start with small portions and get more if you are still hungry. We all tend to clear our plate, so the more you get initially, the more you will eat.
* Don’t beat yourself up. Food is supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t berate yourself if you splurge and ignore all the rules above. Just make sure to balance out that evening with healthier meals during the week.
Now that we have covered food, let’s move on to spirits. In investigating tips on better booze/mixer combos to drink, I stumbled upon a great WebMD article with great tips on partying responsibly. Here is a summary of those:
* Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to save calories. (This will also help you to eat less, as if you are anything like me, the more you drink, the less reserved you are about what you are eating.)
* Choose wine, light beer, or simple cocktails made with low-calorie mixers.
* Skip the mixer altogether.
* Dilute your drink.
* Have a game plan. Decide beforehand how many cocktails you are going to drink, don’t drink on an empty stomach, and know your limits.
* Don’t drink and drive. If you have had too much, have a friend take you home, or call a cab.
The key to healthy eating is planning. So, before you head to that party, know your limits (both in food and drink), and enjoy! The real fun of a party is the stories you tell, and the experiences with your friends and family.
Cheers to all of you for a healthy, safe and happy holiday season! (And again, do not drink and drive!)
What are your tips for getting through parties while staying healthy? Leave them in the comments below.