A UVA Heart & Vascular Center Initiative

5 Tips for a Healthier Holiday Party

Posted December 12, 2017

The holiday season has officially arrived! Filled with work events, happy hours and holiday parties, it’s easy to overindulge while spending time with friends and family. However, healthy eating isn’t something that should be forgotten this time of year.

Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy your holiday events without straying from your heart-healthy routine.

1. Prepare for the Party
Getting ready for a holiday party should include more than picking out the perfect outfit. Don’t skip meals before the event, as it will ensure that you will overeat later. During the day, eat healthy meals of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, low-fat or fat-free dairy and protein like eggs, or peanut butter. Just before you leave, have a small snack, such as a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. You’ll arrive already slightly satisfied, so you’ll skip the second plate at the buffet.

2. Make Smart Drink Choices
Holiday parties are riddled with high-calorie drink choices that can easily add up by the end of the night. Start the night with a non-alcoholic beverage to quench thirst (which can be mistaken for hunger). Say no to eggnog (which contains about 340 calories in a cup) and sugary drinks. Instead, choose light beer or a wine spritzer (wine with club soda). Drink water between alcoholic beverages to help reduce your caloric intake.

3. Keep Calm and Don’t Overindulge
Don’t be overwhelmed by all of the food options. Before grabbing a plate, scope out your choices and make a plan to choose healthy foods. Fill your plate with fruit and vegetables first with a little dip on the side. Avoid fried foods, high-fat meats and snacks that are high in salt, such as party peanuts and olives. Decide if you want to indulge in cheese and crackers or dessert – not both. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just be choosy with your splurges and choose small amounts.

4. Be a Social Butterfly
Instead of indulging in food, indulge in the company of friends and family. Move conversations away from the kitchen or eating areas. Don’t rush into eating when you arrive. Socialize while you are eating to slow down your pace and get involved in the activities at the party.

5. Most Importantly, Stay Mindful!
Mindless eating can easily happen during the holidays. Dining in social settings causes people to eat much more than normal. Stay mindful of what you are eating.  Ask yourself if the food is something you are really hungry for.


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