To party, or not to party? - As the party invitations start rolling in, get a plan in place right away! It starts with choosing carefully which events you want to attend, and which events don’t mean so much to you. You can save your self a load of stress and calories by simply declining a few invitations and staying in a couple nights. This is not to say that you should be a hermit and not celebrate with your friends and family but if your social calendar is anything like mine, you will be able to politely decline a few invites and be better off for it!
Investigate - Part two of planning ahead is determining what you will be up against and deciding what level of discipline are you willing to commit to. This important part of the process begins as soon as you accept an invitation. You should decide out of all of the events for this season, at which ones do you want to splurge a little and at which ones can you be happy with making only healthy choices. You can begin by calling the host of the party and asking if you can bring anything. This begins a casual conversation about what type of food and drinks are to be served. From here, you can begin to decide what delicious holiday treats you are most looking forward to and plan accordingly.
Decide Ahead - Once you have an idea of what type of party spread to expect, take a minute to visualize yourself at the party filling your plate with food. What will that plate look like? Will it be piled high with things that you will only regret later or will you make some healthy choices and have a few treats in moderation? Decide now what treats you would like to see on that plate and what items you can do without. Also, if you drink alcohol, you will want to make a plan for this as well. Too many cocktails can certainly derail the best of plans! Decide ahead how many drinks, if any you will have at each event.
Eat Smart Before The Event – Never go to an event on an empty stomach. Smart snacks before hand include fresh veggies, fruit and yogurt, a few nuts, vegetable soup or some lean protein like a piece of turkey. This will help you make clear headed decisions about what you eat when you get to the party.
Put it in Writing – Every good plan is clear, concise and in writing. Try using your planner or online calendar to keep you healthy holiday plans organized. Here’s an example of how your December Party Plan might look:
Event – Dec. 11th – Birthday Party – late afternoon
What to expect - finger foods, mostly unhealthy but probably a veggie & cheese tray, no alcohol, birthday cake
Plan – Eat before because I don’t think the food will be worth it, snack on veggie tray if needed, skip the birthday cake (only because I don't really want it), drink water.
Event - Dec. 12 – Friend’s holiday party (family event) – late afternoon
What to expect – Pot luck, host makes amazing mostly healthy food. Beer or wine might be available.
Plan – There will be lots of food to enjoy here, most of it healthy. Eat light before hand to save calories. Bring a nice salad for the potluck. Fill half my plate with salad and choose a few dishes to sample. No alcohol today.
Event - December 18th – Work Christmas party – evening
What to expect – Fancy sit down dinner, dessert, cocktails and wine
Plan – this is the event that I want to splurge on. I will enjoy my dinner, but will not clean my plate. I will have two glasses of wine and share one dessert with my husband. I will make sure to go to the gym that morning to burn some extra calories and I will wear a fabulous dress that fits “perfect” and this will remind me to not over do it.
Event - December 24th – Family gathering at Mom’s – evening
What to expect - All of my favorite foods that Mom makes! We can bring beer or wine if we wish.
Plan – There is no way I am going to deny myself my favorite homemade dishes! I will eat a good breakfast and a light lunch to save calories. I will bring a salad to share, that worked well at the potluck. I will exercise in the morning. I will fill half my plate with salad and sample all of my favorite foods in moderation. I will skip bringing wine this year but if there is some available I will have no more than one glass with dinner.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun – Remember the real reason that we all gather at the holidays. It’s not really to eat, is it? We gather so that we can visit with our friends, family and co-workers. We gather to laugh and share memories. Enjoy this special time with loved ones. To keep the party in action, suggest a fun game like charades, go outside and play with the kids, or break off with a few people and take a walk or offer to help the host clean up the kitchen. Keep your focus off the food and on the fun!