Navigating the Holiday Party Scene: 5 Simple & Healthy Tips

The Holidays are here!  The Holidays are here!  Have no fear, I have 5 simple and painless holiday party tips that will help you make sure that perfect outfit still fits you by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around without feeling deprived.

1. Burn Calories While Having Fun at the Party

Managing your weight is all about calories in versus calories out.  Make up for those days when you have to skip the gym by finding creative ways to burn calories at home and at your holiday parties.  You can burn up to 600 calories an hour by dancing at the party and up to 140 by singing. (If singing and dancing in public isn’t really your thing, play music while you are baking, decorating and crafting to sing and dance in private.)  Playing games like scrabble or charades at the party will burn an additional 100 calories an hour.  Or just laugh!  A study from Vanderbilt University found that you can burn 1.3 calories every minute that you laugh.  So surround yourself with those you love, dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, play like you’re a kid again, and laugh all night long!

All Hail Kale Salad2. Don’t Go to the Holiday Party Hungry

Skipping meals is NEVER the answer.  I repeat, don’t ever skip meals to try to lose weight or to manage your weight…this may even cause you to gain weight.  You especially don’t want to do this during the Holidays when you’ll be facing an abundance of some of the most delicious food you’ll encounter all year long.  Choose healthier meals and snacks throughout the day: include plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water.  This way, when it comes to party time, you can make calculated and rational decisions.  You won’t be tempted to snack unnecessarily and you will still be able to eat and drink your annual favorites, but in moderation.

3. Avoid Hanging Out Next to the Food Table

If it’s in front of you, you are more likely to snack on it.  Stay out of reach from the snacks to avoid munching on easily-accessible chips and nuts that you probably wouldn’t eat otherwise.  “Mindless Eating” can cause you to eat 30-45% more.  Save your calorie consumption for the foods that you conscientiously place onto your plate.  Give yourself this rule, a sort of game to play during the Holidays: Nothing is allowed in my mouth without spending time on my plate.  This will encourage you to think about what you’re eating and will prevent you from filling up on the things that you didn’t really want in the first place.

4. Serve Yourself Less Food

When it does come time to pile your favorites onto your plate, try serving yourself smaller portions.  Research shows that people eat about 92% of what they serve themselves, no matter how much they serve.  It sounds kind of silly and simple, but think about all those times you’ve walked to the table with a heaping plate of goodies and walked away from the table with an aching stomach.  You ate too much…again!  So this year try using a smaller plate if available, or don’t allow yourself to have food outside of the outer rim of your plate.  Serve yourself smaller portions of your favorite Holiday treats and you will consume less.

Holiday Bar5. Mind Your Alcohol Consumption

If an occasional alcoholic beverage is a part of your Holiday season, keep in mind these drinks can be anywhere from 100-300 calories each.  A few drinks can easily add up to the amount of calories in an entire meal, but it won’t fill you up like food will.  In fact, alcohol can actually stimulate your appetite: studies show people eat up to 20% more after consuming alcohol.  So sip your drinks slowly and make sure you’ve eaten that healthy snack before your party to curb your appetite.  You can also try drinking a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to slow yourself down.  And to save even more calories, choose “light” versions of your favorite alcoholic beverages and avoid sweetened drinks.  Enjoy your holiday favorites, but just like food, save calories where you can and drink in moderation.

Let’s be real, the holidays are busy so this is not the time to try and lose weight.  Give yourself the more realistic goal of maintenance this year.  You’ve been working hard for 11 months and you deserve this special time with your friends and family.  Use my 5 tips while you eat and drink, and have a merry time with your loved ones!