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How to: Survive the Holiday Party Circuit without Tipping the Scale

Deck the halls with boughs of holly... and let your mouth water for every yummy thing in sight. Along with caroling, gift giving and holiday cheer usually comes a delightful array of delicious treats spread out in a tempting display that can make even those with great will power waiver.

There are, however, ways to enjoy the party - and some treats - without tipping the scale. Hang tight, we aren't going to tell you to drink water and eat only salad, although that would be the ideal situation for your waist size. There are some simple ways that you can remain sensible in this most decadent holiday season.

1) Bring an item that you enjoy to the party - and make it healthy. The thing is about holiday party food is that you have no idea what and how much is in each item that is served. The tendency of the host is to offer their guests the yummiest foods possible - they rarely think about nutrition and calories when trying to please the crowds. By bringing an item to the party, you are not only being a considerate guest, but you are assuring that you have something healthy to eat.

2) Try eating before you go to the party. That way you get in a healthy and nutritious meal and you don't arrive to the party hungry and wanting to eat everything in sight. You can still enjoy a few treats, but this way you can be calculated about your choices.

3) Be wise about the booze. Many people don't count what they drink when they are thinking about calories. Alcoholic beverages, sodas and juice are filled with sugar and therefore calories. If you still think that it won't be a true party without alcohol, then, opt for a glass of wine (better yet, a spritzer) or a light beer. If you are more the mixed drink type, opt for club soda over tonic and use a lime to sweeten it up a bit.

4) Don't hang out by the food table. The tendency at any party is to congregate in the kitchen where the food is. Parties are about people, people, get out into the living room, mingle and you will find that will eat a lot less.

5) Put your food on a plate and sit down to eat. If you hover over the food table and pick at the food, you will have no idea the quantity or portions of food that you are eating - this can add up. By thoughtfully arranging a plate of food, you can make sure that you are eating the right things and in appropriate quantities. Try adding to your plate first the healthier vegetables and salads (this is where the dish that you brought comes in handy) but still save room for some of your favorites, but in moderation if it is not healthy. If it is not spectacular food, then let it be - don't eat something for the simple fact that it is offered to you.

6) Plan ahead. If you know that you are going to be tempted with an array of tasty treats that evening, then make sure that you exercise for an extra 10 or so minutes that day. Taking a long walk or jog, or hitting the treadmill that day may even give you motivation to behave at the party.

We would be remiss if we didn't touch ever so slightly on safety during the holidays as well. If you are drinking, then don't drive. Clear as that. Work it out with a buddy or spouse ahead of time and decide who will be the designated driver and stick to it.

The Chester County Hospital wishes you and yours a safe and festive holiday season.

Last Updated: 1/25/2011