9 Ways to Stay Healthy at Holiday Parties

Between now and the end of the year you will likely receive a dozen holiday party invitations. Between the cookies and the cheer, it may seem impossible to stay healthy. Here are nine easy guidelines to prevent you from becoming a holiday heavyweight:

Eat well early

Start with a healthy breakfast and maintain your good habits throughout the day. Carry around some raw almonds or keep apples and bananas on hand during the day for light snacking. By party time you won't be starving and binge out on the fatty treats.

Fill up and sit down

Step away from the buffet, my friend. Standing around the food is a surefire way for you to lose track of what you're eating. Grab a plate of food and sit far away from the display to socialize.

Step away from the buffet, my friend. 

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Did someone say crudité?

This one is a no-brainer, but of all of those festive finger foods available, you should load your poinsettia-decorated plate up with veggies and fruits. Not only are they low in fat and calories, but they're packed with vitamins that your body craves. Get cheesy and add a few slices to your plate. Cheese has tons of calcium, but enjoy in moderation as both the hard and creamy cheeses are high in fat. But...

Skip the creamy dip

The majority of dips you find at holiday parties - while tasty - are made with mayonaise, sour cream, or other full fat dairy products. Avoid those and search for their healthy counterparts: plain yogurt, tzatziki, hummus, salsa or guacamole.

Stock up on seafood

Smoked salmon is a great party choice. Not only is it delicious, but salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are awesome for brain functionality (and with the craziness of the holidays, who doesn't need a little brain boost?) Shrimp cocktail is another scrumptious snack. It is very low in fat and calories, and will fill you up. Go easy on the cocktail sauce as most is store-bought with added salt and sodium. If you're rolling at a high-class function, sushi and sashimi may be on the menu. Feel free to stock up! Just try to avoid the sodium-filled soy sauce and opt for extra ginger and wasabi.

Get in the spirit with red or clear

Holiday cocktails are at their peak. Choose a heart-healthy red wine to sip, or opt for a vodka and club soda with citrus fruit. While any cocktail contains sugar, these are the best bang for your spirited buck. Vodka is lower in sugar and club soda is just carbonated water. Adding the citrus is a way to sneak a little vitamin into your booze! Avoid white wines, brown liquors, cream liquores, or anything mixed with a soda. These drinks contain a lot of sugar that will bloat your belly right up!

Indulge wisely

Pigs in blankets, creamy dips, chicken wings, chicken tenders, cold cuts - these are all items that you can have any time of year. Spend your calories on foods that are truly seasonal treats, like that display of Christmas cookies and cupcakes that only come around once a year.

Pause and Freshen up

Carry a pack of sugar-free mint gum around with you at all times. Once you feel like you've filled up, pop a piece in your mouth. The minty freshness will help you avoid going back in for another plate of food or that extra cocktail. Plus, you'll have great breath if you end up under the mistletoe!

Surge before a splurge

We all know that it is much harder to GET in shape than it is to STAY in shape. Don't ease up on your gym schedule; pack more push time in so that you can burn up calories before the parties. Instead of sitting at your desk or in the cafeteria during lunch, take a walk outside. Your waistline will thank you later!

How do you avoid slipping from Nice to Naughty during the holiday season? Let me know your tips in the comments section below.

Photo courtesy of Operation Letter to Santa

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About the author

Kate Jaramillo

Health and fitness are not just hobbies, but important aspects of my life. From leading weekly indoor cycling/spinning classes, exercising in my home, working on my Personal Training Certification, and drafting a cook book keep my mind, body and spirit in shape.

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