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5 Healthy Tips For Holiday Parties

Source: GreenWise December 2005

Don’t Go Hungry

“One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not eating all day in anticipation of a party. They arrive at the party feeling ravenous, and their blood sugar has become so low that their appetite is out of control,” says Sandra Woodruff, MS, RD, nutrition consultant and best-selling author. “The best way to plan for an evening party is to have a light breakfast and a lunch that includes some protein and good carbs,” she explains. Try sliced turkey on a slice of whole-wheat bread, for example. Snack on an apple, a source of filling fiber, if you’re hungry before heading out to a party.

Choose Wisely

When you find yourself surrounded by high-calorie snack foods, “zero in on quality foods,” says Woodruff. “Don’t waste calories on ordinary junk food. Before eating the first bite, check out the entire hors d’oeuvres table and prioritize choices.” Woodruff suggests sticking to foods like steamed seafood with cocktail sauce, lean meats, whole-grain crackers, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.


“Talk more, eat less” is Woodruff’s advice. “Concentrating on conversation will slow down the rate of eating so you will feel more satisfied with less food. After 20 minutes of eating, the body signals a feeling of fullness to the brain.” Can’t stop nibbling? “At dinner parties, put your napkin on your plate when you are comfortably full,” says Woodruff. “This will prevent you from unconsciously nibbling any remaining food.”

Save Room For Favorites

What about Grandma’s famous plum pudding? You’ll never stick to a diet plan if you feel deprived, so go ahead. But “skip other high-calorie and high-fat foods that either you don’t absolutely love or you could get at other times of the year,” says Kara I. Gallagher, PhD, assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Louisville.

Easy Does It

Overdoing it at the bar can sabotage your eating plan. “Alcohol can be a double whammy for people who are trying to keep their weight in check over the holidays,” says Woodruff. “First, it provides unneeded calories, and mixing alcohol with creamy or sugary mixers makes matters worse. And, second, alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, so it can make people careless about food choices.” Dr. Gallagher suggests alternating alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic drinks, such as water or fruit spritzer. “You’ll drink less, stay hydrated, and be that much more ready to tackle your next morning’s workout,” she says.

Selected Sources:
“Eat, Drink & Be Healthy,” American Cancer Society, 11/04
Personal communication: Sandra Woodruff, MS, RD; Kara I. Gallagher, PhD, 7/05