It’s that time of the year again, where the holiday office parties have already started weeks ago, and you’re trying to meet up with as many people for a quick catch-up before everyone heads out for the holidays. It’s a whole month (and more) of eating, drinking, and being merry, but that doesn’t mean you have to pack on the party pounds. By following some simple tips you can survive the holiday season without ringing in the New Year with the extra weight.

Dot your plate with little bites from the buffet, like this

Curb your hunger before a party – It might sound strange, but feeling hungry can lead you straight to the buffet table or nibbling on snacks once you get to the party. Having a small, low-fat snack such as fruit, low-fat cheese, or a low fat yoghurt before you head out the door can help control how much you eat, and will allow you to make healthier choices at the party.

Make one trip to the party buffet – Buffet tables can be a very dangerous place when it comes to portion control. You start at the beginning of the buffet, and by the time you have made it half way, your plate is already quite full. Although everything on the buffet might be really tempting, try visiting the buffet once, choose only the foods you really want to eat, and keep portions small. You often only need a taste of the food to satisfy cravings. If you need a full plate to feel like you’re eating enough, then try filling it with salad and vegetables first before adding on the other foods. Try to move away from the buffet to avoid any unconscious nibbling while chatting away.

Then a glass of water 😉

At the dinner table, cut your first helping in half – Whether you’re at a friend’s house for a dinner party or with your family for Christmas dinner putting less on your plate first may help you eat less overall. If you fill your plate to begin with, often times you might be overfilling your plate out of excitement, and end up eating more than you needed. Start with half of what you would usually eat, and then if you need more, you can always have a little more.

Choose healthier finger foods – Try to stay away from any fried appetisers, cheese cubes, cocktail sausages, and pastry based snacks. Instead, opt for some raw veggies with a small amount of dip, pretzels, or low fat crackers. If you are hosting a party, make sure you have some healthy snacks around, not only for yourself, but others might be trying to watch what they are eating too. Some ideas for snacks could be raw vegetables with a low fat dip or hummus, low fat cheese with whole wheat crackers, or some fresh or dried fruits. If you want to include some sausages, don’t wrap them in bacon, instead grill or fry them on a pan without using any type of fat.

Drink smart – This is probably the time of year when we drink the most alcohol, but choosing the right type of drink can cut calories. Making small changes like swapping a glass of wine for a white wine spritzer with soda water or a pint of lager instead of a pint of cider can save some calories while still having a drink. Take a look at the table below to see how many calories are in some of our favourite drinks, you may be quite surprised at how quickly the calories add up.

Drink

Calories (kcal)

Food equivalent

White wine (175ml) (11% ABV)

130

One small bag of crisps

Red wine (175ml) (11% ABV)

120

One small slice of sponge cake

Lager (pint) (4% ABV)

170

One small sausage roll

Premium lager (pint) (5% ABV)

250

One scotch egg

Bitter (pint) (4% ABV)

190

One glazed ring doughnut

Cider (pint) (5% ABV)

200

Beans on toast

Cream liqueur (50ml), such as Baileys (17% ABV)

160

One chicken drumstick

Alcopop (330ml) (5% ABV)

200

A 50g block of medium cheddar cheese

Spirits serving (25ml), such as vodka or gin (37.5% ABV)

55

A 25ml serving of single cream

Taken from www.nhs.uk

Remember to alternate your alcoholic drink with water to help you from becoming dehydrated. If possible, get out of doing rounds, as this way you can drink at your own pace, and don’t feel the need to drink as much.

Finally, be realistic – If you are trying to lose weight, this may not be the right time to do it. Instead, aim to maintain your weight by balancing party eating with other healthy meals. Eat small, lower-calorie and lower-fat meals during the day so you can enjoy party foods later without overdoing your total calorie intake. Most importantly, enjoy the holidays!

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and a healthy start to 2013!

Written by BKR