Christmas is my favorite time of year! I love the warmth and generosity of this season. Everyone goes the extra mile to reconnect with friends and family showing the best side of their humanity. During the month of December, I find invites for parties and get-togethers seem to abound. Which leaves a critical question in your mind. Seriously, how to survive holiday parties without feeling awful, gaining weight, and being “that healthy person” who has no fun? It can be tricky to navigate a party without jeopardizing your health, but I have compiled a list of ways to make it through safely. You might even find you have had a lovely time. Being healthy should never be a burden so let’s get moving so you can start partying!
How to Survive Holiday Parties: Food
Before diving into this list, let’s be honest for a minute. Even the most disciplined foodie allows for a small amount of “unhealthy” now and then. No one eats perfectly 100% of the time. During the holidays, my 10% forgiveness rate moves to a 15-20% rate. This is the percentage of food that I will not worry about and NOT feel guilty about eating. I do my best to eat fantastic during the week which gives me a little more wiggle room when I’m at a party or gathering. However, you can tell the difference in how you feel the next day. To feel great and have fun try these food tips:
- Scope out the fruit and veggies right away and load your plate with them. Most parties will have a fruit and veggie option. This is a great place to start and a way to load your plate without having to sample overly heavy dishes. Be sure to avoid the ranch or blue cheese style dips, though. And if you plan to have alcohol, be sure to load up on very hydrating fruits & veggies like cucumbers, celery, and carrots.
- Look for dips like hummus, tabouli, or guacamole as a dip for your veggies. Stay away from heavy dips such as cheese or casserole styles.
- Let nuts become your best friend! I have been to tons of parties where an almond and cashew mixture is on the table as a little something extra. Most people pass it and go for the cheese fountain. I, on the other hand, love to load up on healthy fats. Nuts are a perfect way to do that!
- Approach the dessert table with caution! It is hard to find a healthy dessert at most parties and even more tricky to say no. If willpower isn’t your friend around the dessert table, then avoid it like the plague. Find some sweeter fruits to munch on during dessert. If you have no problem tossing what you don’t eat, put a small portion on your plate and have a few bites. Just know a few is 2-3, not 10-15…or seconds!
- Be the kind guest, and offer to bring something with you. Depending on the type and size of the party, your hostess may welcome an additional dish. Try bringing these Spicy Beauty Chocolate Truffles by Kimberly Snyder or this Chickpea Pesto Pasta Salad by Kris Carr. Both are delicious and would give an additional healthy option to the table!
How to Survive Holiday Parties: Cocktails
This one is a little tricky as having a drink in your hand at a party is the social norm. You do not want to offend your host by refusing. But I, on the other hand, have quit alcohol altogether. On a special occasion, I may have a sip. However, it makes me feel so ill I avoid it at all cost! So here are my suggestions (for my readers 21 yrs of age and older) to navigate this tricky situation:
- For non-drinkers, use the oldest trick in the book. The Fake-tini! Grab a glass and add water or seltzer water and a splash of lemon or lime juice. Refreshing and delicious! Just be sure to avoid any sugary drink fillers like juices or sodas.
- If you plan to have a drink, try to limit it to 1-2 max as drinking your calories is never a good option. Avoid sugary drinks, mixers, beer, and dark liquors since they are harder for the body to process and do the most damage. Red wine has less sugar than white wine and can be a good heart healthy option. If you prefer liquor, stick with tequila, vodka, or light rum either on the rocks on with seltzer and lime. Remember moderation is key here!
- Alcohol is very dehydrating! While drinking be sure to consume a glass of water after every alcoholic drink to help your body continue functioning at peak performance. I also like to add an electrolyte pack to my water before bed if I have had any alcohol that night. I love these [easyazon_link identifier=”B008UVU4AW” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”sustainab09a-20″ popups=”n”]ElectrolytePLUS Cardio Packs[/easyazon_link] from Dr. Sinatra!
How to Survive Holiday Parties: Conversations
Unfortunately, I am not going to help you get out of that convo with your great Aunt Ruth about what you are doing with your life. What I would like to do, however, is give you a few pointers on how to be the gracious and understanding healthy guest who inspires others. Not the difficult, “I’m too good for that,” nose in the air guest. And while your health is super important, this southern girl feels manners are as well. There is a way to have both! Here’s what I suggest:
- Do not start your conversations with “I can’t have.” That is seriously the worst. Because, honestly, you CAN, but you are choosing not to which is a personal preference. Which I TOTALLY understand because it is the choice I am making too (I am right there with ya!). Just remember, though, you can politely refuse with an easy “no thank you” or a diversion tactic.
- If your hostess is super excited for you to try his/her dish, just take a bite. Your body has an excellent detoxification process, and honestly, one nibble for the sake of manners isn’t going to hurt you. Unless you are going to parties every weekend (hello, where’s my invite!) or you are eating poorly at home (which is a deeper issue) then you should be fine!
- Always find something to offer as a compliment to the host. Being vegan, paleo, or gluten-free at a party can be very hard as a guest but can be just as stressful on a host. If your hostess has gone out of their way to offer even one healthy option be sure to let them know how much you love it!
- Be willing to share about your healthy lifestyle when someone asks about it. I can’t tell you the number of wonderful conversations I have had with people about clean beauty, healthy eating, and improved health at parties. Be honest and be real. Share your triumphs and your struggles. You never know, you might just make a new friend willing to walk this healthy lifestyle with you!
Do you have more tips and tricks on how to survive holiday parties the healthy way? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!