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7 Strategies to Stay Healthy at Holiday Parties

The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, which also brings decadent — read: calorie-heavy — spreads of appetizers and desserts. Events with gingerbread cookies, spiked punch, sausage rolls, cheese plates and other once-a-year treats will tempt you over and over again, but fear not. Jenalee Richner, RD, LDN, from McConnell Heart Health Center, shares foolproof strategies that will help you enjoy yourself and still eat healthfully during the holiday party season.

Closeup of calendar planner next to laptop and coffee with cookies

1. Plan when to splurge.

Take a look at your calendar and decide which event will be worthwhile to indulge in. Is there a celebrity chef? Savor the cuisine. Is the other gathering that week an office gift exchange with bagged chips and dip? Focus on your friends and fill up beforehand.

Person choosing from a variety of appetizers on table

2. Eat mindfully.

It’s easy to forget how much you’ve eaten — or even what’s on your plate — when you are engrossed in conversation and socializing with friends. Be sure to consciously choose your foods and portion sizes, and enjoy your food when you can sit and relish the flavors. Most importantly, if you aren’t hungry, don’t feel obligated to nibble on something.

Person laughing in conversation with another person at a holiday gathering

3. Stand away from the food table.

If you are within eyesight of the snacks, you’ll likely reach for a treat you wouldn’t have, had you been standing away from it.

Woman sipping coffee while laughing with a man

4. Sip a low-calorie beverage.

Drinking soda water with lime or diet soda — instead of noshing on an app — will keep your hands busy while you’re visiting with friends.

Closeup of person holding a chip they just dipped in guacamole

5. Think of the tip of your thumb.

That’s the right size for a portion of dip. When scooping on your plate, keep dip portions to this size (roughly a tablespoon) to keep from overloading your plate with creamy and fatty spreads.

Knife and fork wrapped in a pink napkin with red ribbon on place setting

6. Choose a small plate.

A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies and the other half with protein and complex carbohydrates. Even with this guideline, pick the smaller appetizer plate to keep portion sizes in check.

Closeup of cut up vegetables on plate

7. Host healthfully.

Are you in charge of the party food? Pick visually appealing and healthy options such as chilled shrimp, caprese skewers or bite-sized fruit with Greek yogurt dip.

Ready to live a more heart-healthy lifestyle? Contact us at the McConnell Heart Health Center, we’re ready to support you!


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