Holiday Party Alert: 5 Ways to Stay Healthy

Holiday Party Alert: 5 Ways to Stay Healthy

Who doesn’t love a party—especially when you’re anticipating enjoying some of your favorite once-a-year goodies! Here's 5 great tips that will help you stay healthy this holday season.

Party season is in full swing, between neighborhood gatherings, office parties, and family get-togethers. Who doesn’t love a party—especially when you’re anticipating enjoying some of your favorite once-a-year goodies, like your aunt’s butter cookies or your friend’s killer eggnog. So yes, the party is all good. It’s the after that gets you, when you realize that back-to-back weeks of overindulging has derailed your commitment to healthy eating. You don’t need to swear off those cookies, but you’re smart to use these nutritionist-approved tricks to enjoy without overdoing.

1. Survey the spread. A Cornell University study found that nearly three-quarters of slim diners scout their food selections before putting anything on their plates. Their heftier counterparts, though, tend to just start piling on the food. Other research suggests that most of us fill two-thirds of our plates with the first three foods we see on a buffet. The lesson: Don’t pick up a plate until you’ve surveyed your options and decided on two or three must-have items that you don’t normally get any other time of the year.

2. Think small. One way to keep portions in check is to choose the smallest plate available, even if it’s a saucer. Then savor each small bite from first to last by employing all of your senses. Feel the texture of the food on your tongue, inhale its tantalizing aroma, and let your taste buds appreciate the food’s richness and flavor.

3. Have a pre-party snack. Never show up at a party with a grumbling tummy, says registered dietitian Angela Lemond, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It weakens your impulse control, making you more likely to reach for fatty, high-calorie foods.” A snack before you go will help put you back in charge. “Choose something that combines complex carbohydrates and protein, such as apple slices and a tablespoon of peanut butter,” she says.

4. Get moving. Fitting in exercise can be a challenge when you’re busy with holiday activities and out of sync with your normal routine. But burning off even an extra 100 calories a day can help stave off weight gain. Park far from stores when shopping; skip the mall escalator and take the stairs; and look for activities everyone in the family can enjoy, such as cross-country skiing, bowling, or simply dancing around the living room.

5. Practice forgiveness. An evening of overindulgence is no reason to don stretchy pants for the remainder of the holidays while resolving to do better in the New Year. “Shaming yourself over one decision or one weekend is counterproductive,” Lemond says. “The key is to make more right choices over the course of a lifetime.” Think of the next party as a gift: an opportunity to make healthier choices.