9 Tips to Eat Better at Holiday Parties

The holidays are coming! Don't be caught off guard by that plate of cookies: now's the time to learn tried-and-true tips for eating right from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve.
holiday food

It’s that time of year again… every time you turn around there’s another get-together to add to your calendar or invite in your inbox. It can begin to seem like the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is just one big conspiracy to wreck your healthy eating efforts. So when the umpteenth holiday party rolls around, it’s all too tempting to just throw up your hands, grab a cookie, and say “What the heck?”

So how do you get through it?

As someone smarter than me said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”—so let’s get planning! The tips below will help you prep for any social occasion to ensure that you make it through those holiday parties with your good habits intact:

  1. Never go to a party hungry. Have a healthy snack and a big glass of water before you head to an event so you aren’t trying to resist a pile of freshly frosted Christmas cookies when your stomach is rumbling for something… anything…
  2. Offer to bring something (healthy). If you bring a diet-friendly treat, you’ll know there will be at least one thing at the party that you can eat guilt-free.
  3. Walk away from the food.  Whenever possible, stay as far away from the food as you physically can. This will cut down on the likelihood of mindless munching.
  4. If you’re going to drink alcoholic drinks, limit yourself.  Alternate your drinks with water.  This will cut down on your calories as well as help keep you from drinking so much you don’t care about your eating anymore.
  5. Use the smallest plate you can. On a smaller plate, less food will seem like more and you won’t have the urge to take more just to fill the plate.
  6. Choose one treat. Completely depriving yourself will just leave you cranky and more likely to deplete all your willpower resources. Instead, check out all the food options and choose one indulgence.  Put it on a plate, sit down with it, and really enjoy it.
  7. Carry around a glass of water. If one of your hands is always full, it will be that much more difficult to prepare, and eat from, a plate.
  8. Take a timeout. If you find yourself really struggling to resist something, tell yourself you can eat it—if you wait 15 minutes. Oftentimes putting off eating something will result in not eating it at all.  Chances are you’ll get over the urge, get distracted by a good conversation, or be able to put some distance between yourself and the treat so it becomes less of an issue.
  9. If you do give in and indulge, look forward instead of backward.  There’s nothing you can do to undo it, so just focus on getting back on track as soon as possible. No single party or event ruins a diet by itself; it only becomes a problem if you let that one night turn into two, and then three, and then a week. Own your behavior, move on, and focus on doing better at the next event.

Make it WayBetter

Get in the habit of jotting how each party goes, including what worked and what didn’t. By looking at these notes, you’ll be able to identify your biggest challenges and make a plan to overcome them.