‘Tis the season, and many of my clients are starting to have several holiday parties each week (which makes my introverted side tired just *thinking* about it, but that’s beside the point!). If you only go to one or two holiday parties per year, a bit of extra sugar and a drink or two probably won’t make you feel much different, but if you’re truly in the … ahem … festive mode, all of the extras can add up to you feeling sluggish, foggy-brained, and bloated by the time the New Year strikes. If, instead, you want to truly enjoy your holiday parties and still charge into 2019 feeling your best, read on for my healthy holiday party strategies!
- Get moving! There’s nothing like a good sweat session to get your day started on the right foot any day, but if you’re going to be doing things that deplete your energy levels (like having sugar or alcohol), it’s an even better idea than usual to get that natural energy boost from exercise. Plus, exercise is shown to increase self-confidence, and that’s a good look at any party!
- Hydrate early, and keep going. Water is simply the best health trick in the books, and hydrating throughout the day can make you feel energized and refreshed heading into your holiday party. Plus, it helps flush out any extra toxins you take in throughout the day. I highly recommend staying on the hydration train, and alternating any alcoholic drinks you consume with water (both to slow down your consumption, and to keep you hydrated despite dehydrating alcohol)!
- Have a healthy snack before going. I don’t know about you, but when I’m really hungry, my better judgment on which foods make me feel great and which don’t kind of goes down the drain. It’s not about filling up so you’re too overstuffed heading into the party, it’s just about keeping your blood sugar stable and ensuring that you get some healthy nutrients in your body. A veggie pack with a piece of healthy jerky (here’s my fave), or an apple with a small handful of nuts, are great choices!
- Offer to bring a healthy dish that you love. More than 80% of Americans report trying to eat healthily, yet most holiday parties are heavy on the cheesy dips and lighter on the veggies. All that to say, that the host and the attendees of a party will likely be grateful if you offer to bring a healthy dish to snack on! I’m all about a big veggie tray, but if you want to be a bit fancier, check out this holiday appetizer round up… I love the butternut squash dip and the sweet potato avocado bites!
- Put your appetizers on a plate. Rather than snacking mindlessly from the serving dishes, I highly recommend putting all appetizers you will consume on a plate before eating them. Not only will you be more aware of portion sizes, but you’ll eat more mindfully and enjoy your food more!
- Follow the BDD Rule. Probably my favorite strategy of all time… choose between bread (and breaded things), drink (alcohol, soda, sweetened drinks), and dessert. On a normal night, choose one; a special occasion, two; a super special once-a-year occasion like your birthday, choose all three. Enjoy!
- Be present. Enjoy. By far the most important tip of the entire post. Being present and actually enjoying the company, the festivity, the joy is more powerful than any other health tip. If you’re really soaking in the moments and savoring the good times, your desire for less healthy food reduces. There’s more to life than agonizing over every single food decision you make or beating yourself up about not being “perfect.” So enjoy. Be present. Savor!
Now it’s your turn … What tips do you have to stay healthy at holiday parties? What’s your favorite healthy appetizer to bring to a party?
Love the BDD idea – have you shared that before? I know the concept is simple and falls along the ‘choose where to put your calories’ line of thinking. But what I love about it is that it is *specific*, and therefore much more actionable.
My wife will do that occasionally – say ‘I want another glass of wine so I will skip dessert’.
One thing that I noticed at our division lunch last week that I didn’t like? They put the salad at the *end* of the line … and I heard a few people comment how they would normally use the salad as a ‘plate filler’ to limit their portions of other stuff because it is usually at the start. Little things like strategies for filling your plate can be helpful.
Also love anything that makes you accountable for what you are eating – being at places where they serve appetizers having people walking around with trays to pick off of is awful in this regard. You get no real idea what you are eating as you socialize.
My other strategy is ‘never give up’. Too many people will have something really heavy or fatty or whatever and then say ‘oh well, try again tomorrow’ and overindulge in everything. NO! Enjoy what you choose, but continue making choices.
Really, really love the “never give up” strategy! I say that over and over again this time of year (and anytime, really). So important! We all indulge every once in a while, but getting right back to what makes us feel great is key.
Yikes for putting salad at the end of the line! I would definitely have been the one to go through twice so I could have the “order” I wanted :).
Yes on BDD Rule – way back in 2013, maybe even before *you* were reading, which is a long time!!! https://www.thelyonsshare.org/2013/05/11/the-bdd-rule-for-eating-out/