This topic has been put together by my dietitian friend out in Calgary, Alberta, Vincci Tsui. She has a knack for giving sound and practical nutrition advice with a unique, edgy and quirky touch. She’s going to give you some nutrition tips on how to manage those social gathers that you can’t miss out on!
The social gathering (‘ssss)
Parties are inevitable during the holiday season, and I have had clients who would rather miss out on all the fun than be faced with a table of treats. Don’t be a Scrooge! Yes, calories still count during Christmas, but all you need is a solid game plan so you can enjoy yourself without going overboard.
Bring a healthy option: If it’s not a potluck, give the host a call and ask if you can bring an appetizer or snack. Your friend will probably appreciate the extra help, and even if it just means picking up a pre-cut veggie or fruit tray at the grocery store, you will have the peace of mind that there is at least something at the party that you can feel good eating.
Bring a non-food hostess gift: Take a potted plant (poinsettia or ﬂowers), candles or some nice soap instead of candy or other goodies.
Have a small snack before heading to the party. One very common mistake that people make is that they try to “save up” their calories by eating less throughout the day before a party. As a result, they often go in hungry, so portions are often larger, and it’s harder to resist higher-calorie treats. Eat as you normally would throughout the day, and maybe plan to have a snack with a ﬁbre-rich and/or protein-rich food before you go, so that at the party, it’s your brain making the food choices, not your stomach.
Offer to be designated driver. As long as you don’t mind a few extra stops on the way home (and possibly the drunken antics of your friends), offer to be DD. This will help put a cap on your alcohol consumption, and no one will bug you for sipping water throughout the night.
Survey all the options before digging in. Whether it’s walking around the buffet table before you grab your plate, or scanning the dinner table before taking your seat, take stock of all the choices before serving yourself. That way, you can make a quick plan of how to ﬁll your plate instead of getting halfway down the line and realizing that you’re out of room!
Fill half your plate with vegetables. This is a tip that you will probably hear a lot from dietitians for day-to-day eating, but it’s great to keep in mind for parties too. While it’s easy to have a juicy steak or hearty pasta take up most of our plate real estate, aim to ﬁll that space with vegetables. If you can, serve yourself the vegetables ﬁrst (so that they do take up half your plate), then divide the rest between protein-rich foods, like meat, cheese or legumes, and grains and starchy foods. Why this tip works is that you’re still eating the same volume of food, so you’ll still feel satisﬁed, but ﬁlling up on vegetables means you’re getting more ﬁbre, vitamins and minerals for fewer calories.
Socialize away from the food. If it’s a buffet or cocktail party, step out of the kitchen once you have your plate. If it’s a sitdown dinner, get up as soon as the meal is over. Instead of mindlessly nibbling, keep the food you don’t plan to eat out of sight and out of mind.
Remember, parties should be about enjoying the company of your friends and loved ones. Take the focus and power away from food and have a good time!
For more tips, check out a blog post I wrote onMaking Healthy Choices During The Holiday’s
**Your challenge: Choose 1 or 2 social holiday events or gatherings that you know are not going to be the healthiest. Make a plan in advance on how you are going to manage the eating situations. Try one or two of the tips above.
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