How to Healthfully Navigate a Party

One glass of red wine down and another in hand, I've stood on the brink of that buffet table, staring at the crudités with a fuzzy memory of something about steering clear of the cheese platter. But the untouched fat-free ranch dressing looked so forlorn and the baked brie so enticing. Soon after the gooey, cheesy goodness was lounging seductively on a round of flaky French bread awaiting its rich and creamy journey into my salivating maw. Three more and I wasn't even tasting them.

This year the setting looks frighteningly familiar. The buffet table stretches before me offering up a fanfare of beckoning delectables. The brie is there, along with the crudités, whom I vaguely recall ditching like an unwanted prom date. But this year there is one major difference: me.

"You look fantastic."

"Thank you," you’ll say and smile as you take a sip of your wine and seltzer. "I feel fantastic."

For anyone traveling the road of weight management during the holidays (and I think that's everyone, right?), there is no need to usher in the New Year with the usual post-holiday health hangover and resolutions to once and for all lose weight come January 1. Make changes now for a healthy holiday party season. Here are 5 tips to healthfully navigate a party:

  • The first rule of holiday parties is don’t go hungry. The second rule of holiday parties is don’t go hungry. The third rule of holiday parties is don’t go hungry. Perhaps I’m being vague here. Let me explain… don’t go hungry. Don’t starve during the day to save up for the party. Drink lots of water. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Get your whole grains in. Having fiber-rich, nutrient-packed foods will help fill you up and keep you going, so if you do decide to splurge a little, you won’t do totally off the deep end.
  • Survey the scene. Think about online dating for a moment. You know what you’re looking for and you check out matching profiles. You read about your prospects, check out their pictures, and analyze whether or not it’s worth flirting. Take the same discerning approach to the buffet. What are you looking for? An old favorite? A new taste sensation? Identify one or two that you’d like to take to the next level. Put them on your plate and walk away.
  • Ah yes. A word about the plate. Generally holiday parties feature different stations with – behold! – different plate sizes. Pick a small plate (salad or desert sized). Less food will look like more to your stomach. Plus, it will really help enforce the selectivity.
  • Notice I’ve come all this way and haven’t mentioned booze? That’s because it’s good to hold off –at least for a little bit. Having some food in your stomach is a good thing if you’re mixing it up with some spirited libation. Another trick is to alternate booze with seltzer water. A glass of one, a glass of another. It will keep you hydrated and also keep you from drunkenly insulting your boss after 4 in a row… or whatever it takes.
  • Dance, dance, dance. Unless, of course, it’s not a dancing party. Then definitely DO NOT DANCE. But if it is, cut a rug for a bit… it’s a great way to add some calorie burn to the mix. You’ve been good, you’ve been restrained. Let loose on the dance floor, not on the buffet.

Don’t believe me? Fine, don’t eat for the entire day, start with a drink, keep drinking, pile a dinner plate as high as you can, and sit on your butt the entire night. But don’t come crying to me because I won’t be here. I’ll be at the gym looking svelte.
(Note: do not heed the advice in the final paragraph.)

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