Christmas Party Season
~A How-to Survival Guide

The Christmas party season is upon us and just about everyone is wondering what to do to survive and come out healthy on the other side.

You’ve worked hard all year to gain some health benefits. What are you doing during the party season to safeguard those benefits? You’re invited to numerous parties, you’re hosting events, then there’s the big dinner day – it’s time to strategize.

Ten tips to help you navigate the party scene:

  1. Eat a small snack before going out
  2. Bring a healthy dish to your next Christmas party
  3. Implement portion control
  4. Focus on the fruit and veggie plates
  5. Limit high fat items
  6. If you must drink – go for the lower calorie items
  7. Drink water between ‘drinks’
  8. Try socializing away from the food tables
  9. Focus on the social aspect of the party, instead of eating until you pop
  10. Write down everything that you eat and drink – keeping a running tally in your head never works

Eating a small snack like a handful of almonds will give you some calories, fibre and healthy fat to keep most hunger pangs at bay and guard against overindulging in all the wrong foods.

Bringing a healthy dish to your next Christmas party will help not only you, but other guests as well who are looking for a healthy alternative. The usual pastries, chocolates, high-fat hors d’oeuvres, and martinis will all be there and if you have a healthy alternative, you will be less likely to overindulge in the less healthy dishes.

Implementing portion control is a wise strategy. If you tell yourself before the party that you will have a small sampling of a few food items and then stop before your waist starts pushing uncomfortably against your pants, you will have beaten the party fare at their own game. You will continue to look good in your party outfit and you will feel good too – no bloating, no rising muffin top issues.

Focusing on the fruit and veggie plates will help fill you with fibre, nutrients (you won’t get that in the pastries), and lower calories - all the ingredients to keep you from overindulging in the other stuff.

Limiting high fat items is another great strategy. High fat items usually mean saturated fats and trans-fats. If you’re looking to keep the health benefits you’ve gained this year then it’s time to assess the food choices at your party and choose to say no to a second round of shortbread, cakes, pastries, cheesy hors d’oeuvres, and high fat dipping sauces.

If you’re planning on having some holiday cheer, go for the lower calorie drinks. Alcohol contains empty calories and it limits the body’s ability to process fat, so when you’re hyped up on Christmas cheer and nibbling mindlessly on all the goodies in front of you, you’re doing your body a disservice. If you’re going to drink, then let’s face it, you’re going to drink. You can lessen the damage by choosing lower calorie drinks and limiting the quantity. Spread out the time between drinks by having a full glass of water to sip on between drinks – this will also rehydrate you. Lower calorie drinks include: wine, light beer, and gin with club soda instead of your usual sugary mix. Below is a list of popular drinks and their corresponding calories:

  • Red wine (3.5oz), ~74 calories
  • Gin & club soda (1.5oz gin) ~97 calories
  • Light beer (12 fl oz) ~99 calories
  • Regular beer (1 can/bottle) ~146 calories
  • Martini, made from recipe (3.5oz) ~242 calories
  • Eggnog (8oz) ~343 calories

Another tip is to try socializing away from the food tables to reduce the amount of mindless nibbling between conversations. Parties are all about the social aspect and not eating until you pop, so focus on the people, the great conversations, and catching up with old friends. Food and great conversation go hand in hand, but when you’re caught up in a conversation, you may lose track of how many of those cute little fatty treats you just put in your mouth. So move away from the food tables and focus on your friends.

For all you strategists out there, write down everything you eat and drink. This is the best after-party assessment tool to help you figure out which areas you need to improve before heading out for your next bout of Christmas cheer. When you get on the scale at the end of the week and wonder where all the pounds came from, it will be right there in black and white and you will be able to make adjustments based on previous behaviour.

One final word: parties are meant to be enjoyed and that means a little bit of indulgence. If all else fails, use the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your food for the day should be healthy nutritious choices with a minimal amount of processed foods and the other 20 percent can be little indulgences in the form of party foods and Christmas cheer.

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The contents of this site are the opinions of Michele Tse unless otherwise noted. The information on this site is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice or treatment. Please consult your health care practitioner before beginning any fitness program.