Eating Healthy at Holiday Parties

If you're trying to eat healthy throughout the holidays, going to parties, celebrations and other social events might leave you feeling overwhelmed. Sweet drinks, buttery dishes and salty snacks can be lined up around you and festive food tables can seem like obstacle courses.

Eating healthy is easier when you think ahead. Before you arrive at a party or event, have a strategy for steering through all of the food and drink offered. Think about what you might want to eat before you get there and stick to your plan. Keep to the spirit of the event by spending time with people, instead of hanging out at the buffet table.

Here are some tips to help you keep your holiday goals and make the season a healthy one.

  • For a party where there will be lots of appetizers and other goodies, don't arrive hungry. Eat a snack 1 to 2 hours before the event so you're not facing all the food and drink options on an empty stomach. Try half a sandwich, an apple with peanut butter, or some veggies with hummus.
  • For a buffet dinner, review the choices available first. Take a look at the buffet before digging in. Don't eat the food just because it's there. Instead, choose foods that you only get once a year, that are made by someone special or are unique. Then enjoy every bite. For more tips on how to make healthy choices at a buffet, visit the Healthy Families BC blog on Buffet Eating in Paradise.
  • At a holiday dinner, plan what you will put on your plate. Fill up most of your plate with vegetables and salads. Pick the foods that you rarely get the chance to enjoy. Save everyday items like buns or crackers for another time.
  • For all occasions, slow down and savour your food. While you're eating and drinking, take pleasure in the smell, texture and taste of your choices. Paying attention to what you're eating helps you enjoy it and feel satisfied.
  • Stay hydrated. If you find yourself wanting to eat but aren't sure if you are hungry, ask yourself if you're thirsty. Sparkly soda water is a refreshing option and has no sugar or calories. For extra flavour add some fruit slices like watermelon, oranges or berries. For more holiday cocktail ideas, visit the Healthy Families BC blog on Holiday glitz and glam by the glass.
  • Stand away from the food. You are more likely to grab and eat food when you're close to it, even if you aren't hungry. After you are satisfied, stand away from the food or drink tables. If you are sitting at a table for dinner, take your plate to the kitchen when you finish and move into the living room. Invite others to join you.

Healthy eating during the holidays doesn't have to feel like an obstacle course. Plan ahead, enjoy the foods you do eat and feel good about your choices. Your health isn't determined by one food or one day. It's what you do all year that counts.

Happy Holidays!

Last Reviewed: November 2014

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