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Navigating Office Holiday Parties From A Dietitian

It’s that time of year again; time for the much anticipated holiday office party. For most, this is a great opportunity to unwind and take your mind off of the end of the quarter financial reports or performance evaluations. 

Eating healthy when dining out at social events like these can be a challenging experience when you are trying to stick to your health goals.

While it’s easier said than done, in today’s article I'm going to teach you some dietitian-approved tips on how to find that sweet middle-ground so you can have your cake and eat it too! 

Don’t Go Starving. Many people tend to skip meals and restrict their calories the day of a holiday party in hopes of offsetting the calories and indulgences they’re sure to have later. However, you’ll find that this mindset backfires time and time again. You’ll arrive to the party starving and will end up eating more than you would if you ate reasonably throughout the day. On top of that, you probably won’t enjoy your food because you’ll be too busy scarfing it down instead of savoring it! Do yourself a favor and have a snack or a small meal before you go. Here are some snacks that I recommend: 

  • Apple with peanut butter
  • Yogurt with berries and nuts
  • Avocado toast with an egg on top
  • Celery & carrots with hummus

Choose What You Love. It’s easy to fill your plate up with random foods while you’re chatting, but it’s important to be picky and choose the foods that you actually WANT to enjoy. Take a loop around the food table before you grab anything, it’s a good idea to know all the options available before you start filling your plate. Choose the foods that excite you the most, and ignore the rest. 

Be Strategic About Alcohol. Many office parties tend to have free alcohol available, and while this may be tempting, it can also spell disaster (not only from a nutritional standpoint)! For every drink you have, also drink a full glass of water. Not only will this help you to consume less calories, but this tactic will also help keep you hydrated. Additionally, be mindful about which beverages you choose and opt for lower calorie ones. Stick to dry wine, light beer, alcoholic seltzers, champagne, or spritzers and if you have a cocktail, go for one that is mixed with club soda or tonic water. 

Prioritize Veggies. Most parties will usually have some fruit and vegetables available (hopefully). Snack on vegetables with dip or hummus as an appetizer along with your appetizer of choice. During dinner, fill up half of your plate with vegetables and add fruit to your dessert. We want fruits and vegetables to be the star of the show for added nutrition, fiber, and let’s not forget, they’re naturally low in calories! 

Change Your Mindset. As with anything, moderation and balance is important. It’s all about what you do MOST of the time. Don’t feel guilty or stressed out about a slice of pie you just ate. Instead eat the dessert, move on, and continue with your normal healthy habits the next day.

With a little planning and practice, it is possible to stay on track with your goals while still enjoying holiday office parties. Remember these tips and do what works best for you.


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