1. Check it out. First things first. When you arrive at the party, grab a sparkling water with a twist, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating. This will give you time to relax, get comfortable in your surroundings, and survey your food choices on the buffet before diving in, says Tallmadge. A buffet is an invitation to eat all you can, and unless you carefully scrutinize it and make wise choices, you’re likely to overeat.
2. Add fun and games. Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, co-author of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy, proposes taking the focus off food and getting family and friends more active during holiday parties. Think horseshoes, badminton, sledding, ice skating, or building snowmen. Indoors, try a spirited game of charades, or rent an instructional dance video followed by a dance-off. “The best parties include dancing, so why not make dancing after eating a new holiday tradition for a great form of fun and recreation?” asks David Katz, MD, MPH, author of The Flavor Point Diet.
3. Alternate alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages.Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories — especially holiday favorites like eggnog. “Cut your alcohol calories in half by alternating water or seltzer between alcoholic beverages,” Katz advises.
4. Skip the appetizers. “Eschew the appetizers rather than chewing on them,” says Katz. If you need a little nibble before the meal, go for the veggies, fruit, salsa, or a small handful of nuts.
5. Limit the variety. Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating, suggests putting only two items on your plate when you go to the food table. Return as many times as you like, but only take two items each time. “Variety stimulates appetite, and if you limit your choices to just a few items and stick with these, it will be easier to control than eating a little bit of 20 different dishes,” agrees Katz.
by By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD