4 Ways to Eat Healthy at Holiday Parties

Get expert strategies for nutritious seasonal snacking—without feeling like you're missing out.

hands toasting wine over holiday party food buffet

Updated on July 20, 2023.

It can be hard enough sticking to a sensible eating plan on regular days. Doing so during the holidays is a special challenge. Here are four tips for navigating cookie exchanges, party buffets, and so much more.

Snack early

Nibbling on something small before a party can help curb your appetite, leading you to eat less once you arrive. “Have a protein- and fiber-rich snack like a whole wheat pita with lean lunchmeat, an apple with a few nuts, or a bowl of high-fiber cereal,”  says registered dietician and fitness professional Kat Barefield.

Take your time

“Eat slowly and enjoy the food,” says Larry Cheskin, MD, of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “This will help you to feel full before you have overeaten. An easy strategy is to put your fork down between each bite and chew at least 10 times for every mouthful.”

This way of mindful eating can also help you stay in the moment and notice the flavor, smell, and texture or food. By doing so, you may find yourself less likely to go back for more because you’re already satisfied.

Make a sampler platter

It’s tempting to gravitate toward the holiday spread and graze. To control portion sizes, try dishing some treats onto a plate and stepping away to savor them. “If there are things you really want to try—especially foods that are high in fat like meats, sauces, and dips—take just enough for a couple bites and really take the time to taste and enjoy them,” says Karyn Springer, MD, of Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. “This will help satisfy you without overdoing it.”

Choose drinks wisely 

Cocktail calories can add up very quickly—especially if you’re in full mingling mode and aren’t paying attention to your intake. “Choose water or low-calorie beverages in order to avoid drinking the extra calories,” Dr. Springer says. “Or, switch to a no-calorie drink after you’ve had one holiday tipple.” Alternating alcoholic drinks and water will help you avoid a hangover.

Bottom line: You got this!

Article sources open article sources

National Library of Medicine. Snacks for Adults. MedlinePlus. Page last reviewed July 30, 2022.
Nelson JB. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes Spectr. 2017;30(3):171-
National Library of Medicine. Calorie count – Alcoholic beverages. MedlinePlus. Page last reviewed June 22, 2022.

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