Keep the Season Light: Holiday Parties Without the Calories

Keep the Season Light: Holiday Parties Without the Calories

Updated September 2020.

As the holidays near, parties are everywhere: in the office, at your neighbor’s or friend’s house, and of course, with your family. Along with the exciting celebrations, you may have concerns about eating healthy while enjoying the festivities. If you plan to host or attend a gathering this holiday season, here are a few suggestions to help make nutritious choices.

Swap ingredients if you're hosting

  • Use two egg whites in place of one egg to reduce the cholesterol.
  • Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to give extra flavor without adding butter or margarine.
  • Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine, or butter in muffins and quick loaves of bread like banana bread.
  • For dips, sauces, and pie toppings, use plain yogurt (add honey for natural sweetness) instead of sour cream and whipped toppings.
  • Sliced almonds make an excellent crunchy topping without the extra fat and sodium of fried onion rings.
  • Include veggie and fruit trays for a low-calorie appetizer you and your guests can feel good about munching on.

If you plan to be a party guest at holiday gatherings this year, the situation becomes a bit trickier as the ingredients and dishes may be out of your control. However, there are still a few approaches you can take to make nutritious choices.

Plan ahead if you're a guest

  • Start your day off right. Follow your typical healthy eating routine and include plenty of fresh produce and healthy choices of grains and lean proteins to keep you satisfied. Don’t starve yourself until the party – this will often result in overindulging in unplanned calories.
  • Plan a smart snack. Choose something high in fiber or protein such as an apple, celery and peanut butter, or whole-grain crackers and cheese. Having a snack before you leave for the party will help keep you full so you can make healthy choices later.
  • Offer to bring a side dish! This is a gracious way to lend a helping hand and an easy way for you to identify a healthy dish.
  • Choose carefully between foods you will definitely eat, those you will sample, and what you will skip. If you have a sweet tooth, pick one dessert you want to eat. It's all about balance.
  • Don’t rush! It’s tempting to hit the buffet line right away, but remember that parties are for socializing and spending time with friends and family. Take a moment to enjoy the festivities before eating.
  • Keep your interactions away from the food. Carrying on a conversation by the cheese and crackers makes it all too easy to snack in between talking.

Remember: Drinks have calories too. Moderate alcohol consumption is considered as one drink a day for men and women.

Have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday!

Need help planning your meals this holiday season? Speak with a registered dietitian on Amwell now.

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