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How To Survive the Holiday Party Circuit Without Tipping the Scale

(As published on TheTownDish.com, December, 2010)

Deck the halls with boughs of holly... and let your mouth water for every yummy morsel in sight. Along with caroling, gift giving and seasonal cheer, the holidays also usually come with a delightful array of delicious treats spread out in tempting displays that can make even those with great willpower waiver.

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

  1. Bring an item that you enjoy to the party - and make it healthy. The thing about holiday party food is that you have no idea what is in each item served. The tendency of the host is to offer their guests the tastiest foods possible - sacrificing nutrition and calories in hopes of pleasing 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 won't arrive wanting to eat everything in sight. Also, those who tend to make healthy choices earlier in the day are more likely to continue making healthier choices as the day goes on. 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 massive amounts of sugar, which means lots of 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. See the beverage calorie breakdown below.
  4. Don't hang out by the food table. The tendency at any party is to congregate in the kitchen where there is food. Parties are about people, people. Get out into the living room, mingle, and you will find that you 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 - which 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. Sit down and enjoy what you're eating. By consciously tasting every bite, you will eat less, slow down, and enjoy the moment. 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, 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.

Beverage Calorie Breakdown

  • Sparkling water with lime 8oz - 0 calories
  • Diet soda 8oz - 1 calorie
  • Non-alcoholic wine 4oz - 8 calories
  • Non-alcoholic beer 12oz - 32 calories
  • Wine 4oz - 80 calories
  • Champagne 4oz - 84 calories
  • Cocktail 2.5oz - 133 calories
  • Beer 12oz - 146 calories
  • Regular soda 8oz - 157 calories
  • Eggnog (with alcohol) 8oz - 407 calories

Last Updated: 9/7/2012