4 healthy secrets for navigating holiday parties


Holiday party

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Holiday party season is almost upon us, and it’s never too early to start thinking about your strategy to stay healthy. It is SO tempting to throw caution to the wind and just use the old “I’ll start over next year” excuse, but 2016 is just too far away for you to trash your healthy habits, and resuming them can be harder than you think after a two-week break. The key here is eliminating “all or nothing” thinking from your approach to the holidays.

During an ordinary week, we can control a lot of our meals and the food that’s in front of us. During the holidays, chances are we may be out of our house, attending functions where we don’t always have a say in the food choices. We know to expect that we may be around more food, drinks and desserts, and while we can’t change this reality, we CAN set ourselves up for success without deprivation.

Deprivation won’t work here for a number of reasons.

You want to enjoy yourself. Holidays are a time of celebration! It’s OK for you to celebrate and enjoy these times with family and friends. Spending time in the corner with a carrot stick will most likely put a damper on your holiday spirit.

You also don’t want to wind up at the drive-through at midnight. Starved and overdosed on less-than-festive-crudite can leave us with an uncontrollable urge to binge — the exact thing we were trying to avoid!

So what’s a health-conscious holiday party lover to do? Check out some of these great strategies and celebrate the holidays knowing you made healthy — yet delicious — party choices. 


1. The “One Plate Technique”

When you at a holiday party, scope out the spread. Your strategy here is to set yourself up to avoid being the “picker.” Rather than going back over and over to try new things, you are going to fill your plate once. This technique gives you a boundary around your serving sizes and helps you make sure you take what you really want versus a little bit of everything all night long.


2. Make your plate “MAGIC” — Divide your plate into thirds.

One-third of your plate should be filled with protein. At a party you might find shrimp cocktail, meatballs or even a bean salad. Don’t be afraid to make the best use of this section and fill up on the protein that you most enjoy. 

One-third  of your plate is dedicated to veggies. Crudite is usually a standard at holiday parties. The great part is that raw veggies are filling and can help you control your appetite. Cooked vegetables are fine too; just watch out for things drenched in oil, cheese or any other overload of fat. 

One-third of your plate is … all the fun stuff. Have your (small piece of) cake and eat it too. Taste a few things that you normally wouldn’t have in your food regimen. It’s the holidays in moderation, and it is possible.


3. But what about alcohol?

Use the one-to-one approach: one “fakeout cocktail” to one actual drink. A fakeout cocktail is as simple as a highball glass with sparkling water and lemon/lime. Start out with one of these when you get there. Next have a smart drink like red wine, or sparking water with a splash of your favorite alcohol. (Hint: potato vodka and rum are gluten-free). Then switch back to your fakeout cocktail. No one will bug you with questions (“Why aren’t you drinking?!”) and you’ll avoid the deprivation factor. Not to mention you’ll cut your calorie count and likely feel better in the morning than if you’d hit the punch all night long!


4. Focus on conversions.

Get yourself involved in conversations with that relative or friend you haven’t spoken to a while but really love talking to. Engaging in other activities will distract you from the buffet table. Make it a point to identify two or three people you want to spend some quality time with.

Just a few quick strategies and some increased consciousness will help you not only enjoy holiday celebrations, but it will also help you maintain your holiday energy and stamina — plus you’ll gain the confidence to repeat these behaviors! After all, confidence is just remembered success. As soon as you ace one holiday party with these techniques, you’ll be able to repeat them over and over again and enjoy a fabulous and fit holiday season. 

Stacey Morgenstern and Carey Peters are the founders of Health Coach Institute, the first online learning platform, which teaches individuals how to turn their passion for holistic living into a career. They have collectively trained over 8,000 coaches in 27 countries for the past decade. Their comprehensive curriculum covers nutrition, health and wellness education, transformational coaching skills training, personal growth and proven business and marketing systems.