Healthy Holiday Party Tips
By Rachel Thralls, CS
I love the holidays and love sharing how to enjoy all the delights of the season and parties while still staying true to your health! First, remember that there’s no better time of year to remind yourself of why you want to live a healthy lifestyle in the first place. Your friends and family care about you. They want you to be happy, healthy, and be the person you want to be!
Also, seeing your loved ones at these gatherings is a great reminder that the holidays are about so much more than the food. Those delicious dishes and desserts are just tokens of the love you share with the most important people in your life. When you focus on what really matters, it’s not so hard to let a treat or two pass you by.
In fact, there’s no reason you can’t successfully be healthy during the holidays and at all of those holiday parties! It helps to have the right mindset, and a plan for getting through holiday parties keeping your health priorities in check! Here are a few tips and tricks!
1. Don’t arrive hungry
Don’t starve yourself before a big holiday party! You may think you’re “saving up calories,” but the hungrier you are when you arrive, the more likely you are to make poor food choices and wind up eating more than you might have otherwise. “Saving” calories for later means you’ll feel overly hungry, which will cause your brain to release hunger hormones. Start the day with a healthy, satisfying breakfast, a reasonable lunch and a snack before you go! Also, drink at least a full glass of water before the party and during as hunger can be triggered by dehydration!
2. Offer to bring a healthy dish
Not only are you guaranteed to have something healthy to eat, but also the host will appreciate your help! When in doubt a big hearty salad or a veggies and hummus appetizer are always a safe bet!
3. Prioritize your treats
We all look forward to treating ourselves during the holidays, but all those temptations can quickly become overwhelming! When I’m at a holiday party, I scan the entire table of food first and then choose the two or three that I want the most, the ones that are most likely to make the night feel extra-special. Then, I take my time and savor each bite! I also tend to eat more of the veggies and lean protein while at parties instead of only cheese and carbohydrate loaded appetizers.
4. Avoid excess alcohol
From sparkling to spiced wine and even cranberry infused cocktails, food isn’t the only temptation at a holiday party. Try to avoid drinking too many of your calories in the liquid form, which can add up quickly. For every glass of wine or cocktail that you consume, drink a glass of water to stay full and hydrated!
5. How do you want to feel as you’re leaving?
Before even arriving at the party (and perhaps once again before taking your first bite), imagine how you want to feel when it’s time to leave. Stuffed like a turkey? Or happy, satisfied, and proud of yourself for keeping your goals on track? You’ll be amazed at how powerful this mental exercise can be in allowing you to enjoy the gathering to the fullest without overindulging.
6. Remember the reason you’re celebrating
Concentrate on socializing, making new friends, and having fun. Think about what you are celebrating and not just the great food. Better yet, be a rock-star guest and volunteer to help the host clean up and wash a few dishes, which will also keep your mind off the food table!
Rachel Thralls is a Certified Sommelier and is studying to be a certified Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. She is the owner of FitSomm Rachel.