10 Smart Tips for Tackling Holiday Parties on a Diet

We all love to have fun and indulge when the holidays come around. But what if you're working toward becoming a healthier you? Just follow these savvy tips to keep on track.

Catering eating companionship buffet Photo: Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com

The holidays tend to be one party after another, with endless opportunities to eat, drink and be merry. While it may seem impossible to go from Thanksgiving turkey to New Year’s brunch without packing on pounds, you can maintain or even lose weight while not missing out on the deliciousness of the season. Just pace yourself and enjoy everything in moderation. Here are some tips.

1. Eat Those Treats That You Can Have Only Once a Year

Does your grandma make an out-of-this-world apple pie only during the holidays? Have a slice. But then stay away from the other calorie-heavy treats you can eat anytime.

2. Eat Before Attending the Party

Arriving at a party hungry is a big diet no-no. Instead, eat a fiber-rich piece of fruit, such as an apple or pear, before you head out. It will stabilize your blood sugar and keep you from raiding the buffet.

3. Pack Your Plate with Veggies

Filling up on veggies (with a little ranch for dipping) will keep you full, satisfied and less likely to load up on the high-calorie stuff.

4. Eat Mindfully and Slowly

When you eat a spoonful or forkful of anything, use all your senses to judge how much you like what you’ve chosen. Are you loving Aunt Patricia’s green-bean casserole? Would you rate it 10 out of 10? If the answer’s no, it’s probably not worth the calories.

5. Downsize Your Plate

Instead of picking up a plate the size of your face, grab a small appetizer plate. This will help trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are.

6. Watch the Hooch

What’s a party without a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine? While drinking on a diet is possible, be aware that the calories add up quickly. Remember that one glass of vino filled to the tippy-top of the glass likely exceeds a 5-ounce serving. And the more you drink, the more likely you are to eat. A lot.

7. Drink Water

It will fill you up and keep you hydrated. And with a slice of lime, it looks like a cocktail—but without all the empty calories.

8. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

Enjoy a small slice of cake or pie. Eat a piece of fudge or a cookie. But do it slowly, savoring every morsel. Taking time to taste your dessert (versus wolfing it down) will make you happy—both for the taste and for the knowledge that you had just a little.

9. Don’t Fixate on Food

Yes, eating and drinking play an important role in holiday get-togethers. But don’t make that the center of your attention. Instead, focus on family, friends and colleagues. Celebrate the season and your good fortune.

10. Don’t Forget to Exercise

No matter how busy you get, be sure to make time for those all-important workouts. Whether you take a quiet walk in the snow or pump iron, exercise revs up your metabolism and burns extra calories.

Bethany DiCarlo co-created the food blog Athletic Avocado with her twin sister, Rachel. A graduate student at Drexel University, she is studying to become a registered dietitian.

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