1. Eat first. Whenever possible, eat a healthy meal or snack before a party so you don’t make poor choices out of hunger. Also, if you eat first you will have started your evening (or afternoon) on the right foot and you are more likely to continue to make good choices.
2. Visualize, visualize, visualize. Think about what kinds of treats will be there, what your partner or friend will order and what you will order. Check out the menu ahead of time. Think about how much water you will drink. Think about when you will say “no” and what you will say “yes” to. Go over everything in your mind so that your decision will come from a thoughtful place instead of being reactionary.
3. Plate it. Grazing from a buffet table, eating out of a bowl or picking hors d-oeuvres off of a plate being passed around can ruin your best plans. It’s very easy to underestimate every handful, bite, lick and taste if you just have a little of everything. Grazing won’t seem like much in the moment, but it’s easy to consume a thousand calories without even sitting down. Grab a plate and eat from that instead.
4. Eat colorful foods. When you take a moment to plate your food you’ll have a chance to eat mindfully. Add high volume, low calorie, colorful foods to your plate like fruits and vegetables. Stay away from dipping sauces, mayonnaise and heavy dressing. Add a few bites of your favorite holiday foods, but keep it small and throw the rest away.
5. Bring some cheer! Always bring healthy snacks and drinks to parties. Bring the veggie plate. Bring a fruit salad. If you are avoiding alcohol, bring the sparkling water or kombucha. Bring caprese skewers or cucumber sandwiches. If you bring something, you will be a great guest AND you will ensure that there is healthy food to eat.
6. Share. If you eat out, portions are usually on the larger side. From appetizers to entrees, most dishes are easily shared. If you don’t have someone to share with, consider ordering an appetizer as an entrée or ask the server to bring half of your order in a “to go” container when they serve you the other half.
7. DRINK! Stay hydrated. Set a goal for the number of glasses of water you will drink at the party and go for it! Or dig into the sparkling water or kombucha that you brought to share.
8. Pace yourself. The holiday season is a marathon, not a race. Every party, every event may present a challenge to staying healthy and keeping holiday weight at bay. Visualize, be mindful, plan ahead and breathe deeply. Enjoy a bite of your favorite treats and don’t beat yourself up about it. Remember that first bite or two (off of your plate) always tastes the best. Try it and toss it!