10 Easy + Healthy Eating Tips To Navigate The Holiday Party Scene
Now that the holidays are in full swing, you probably have a calendar that’s equally full of parties.
While this can be super fun, it can also be pretty stressful, especially when you’re tempted to overindulge in a wide variety of food and drinks, leaving you feeling not so great at a time you probably want to be feeling, well, great.
So what’s a social (or socially obligated) babe to do?
First, don’t stress, because I’ve got some answers, and as a nutrition + hormone health coach, I’ve lead numerous workshops and coached hundreds through this season in order to help them navigate the holiday party scene in a healthier, happier way.
And I’m sharing with you my top 10 easy + healthy holiday party tips you can easily incorporate into your routine below.
10 EASY + HEALTHY HOLIDAY PARTY TIPS
1. Balance Your Blood Sugar Pre-Party
You’ve probably heard this one before, but I encourage you to avoid showing up to a party starving. Not only is this not ideal for your blood sugar levels (too low and you’ll experience major cravings + impaired brain function, too high and you can experience fat storage, adrenal dysfunction + hormone imbalance) but you’ll have a MUCH harder time being intentional and mindful about the food you actually want to eat.
Instead, check in with your hunger levels before the party. If you’re already approaching hanger, try creating a “snack size” smoothie with 10g of protein (roughly 1 scoop of collagen), a large handful of greens, 1/4 avocado or 1 tbsp nut/coconut butter, 1 cup unsweetened nut milk + 1/2 cup frozen berries or a banana.
This balance of protein, fat and fiber works to stabilize your blood sugar levels, hormones AND emotions pre-party, empowering you to show up as your best self AND avoid immediately raiding the hor duerves tray.
PRO-TIP — If I’m going to a party later in the evening, I often try to go out somewhere to dinner beforehand. This ensures I get in a good, blood-sugar-stabilizing-meal and can truly focus on the people (rather than the food) at the gathering.
2. Plan in Advance (When You Can)
Although you may not always have this option, check out the food menu in advance if you can, as knowing and choosing what you want to eat ahead of time will empower you to stick to the game plan.
If you’re in need of some light structure, try and decide on one cocktail, one plate of food (fill it up once, resist going back for seconds or eating apps here and there) and one dessert.
PRO-TIP — I keep a bar of dark chocolate in my purse to enjoy a square (or three :)) at the end of meals, which helps signal the end of the eating for the night and leaves me feeling emotionally satisfied. You can also try mints or even brushing your teeth.
3. Offset The Alcohol
If you know you have a big party coming up that night (and plan on imbibing), try to get in some movement or exercise earlier in the day, which studies have shown may offset some of the oxidative stress (i.e. increase in disease-causing inflammation + cognitive impairment) that occurs when you consume alcohol.
4. Make Your First Beverage At The Party Alcohol-Free
Opting for a non-alcholic beverage first thing (bonus points if it’s super-hydrating like water) enables you to scope out the scene and be super intentional about your healthy eating (and drinking) game plan for the night ahead.
5. Avoid Appetizers (Or Grazing) When Possible
I encourage my clients to pass on the appetizer try when possible, especially if they know (and are excited about) enjoying the main meal or course. When you eat your meal on a plate while sitting down, it’s much easier to gage how much you’re actually consuming and cue into your satiety signals, which help you to avoid over-indulging and that uncomfortable fullness that follows.
6. When Eating Apps, Go For Protein-Based Options
If you’re super hungry and can’t wait for the main meal to start noshing, try grabbing a protein-based option that will help balance your blood sugar. Some good options/examples include prawn cocktail, meatballs, hummus and veggies, or chicken satay/skewers. Bonus points if you can put it on a plate and eat it sitting down, which helps trigger those satiety signals and promotes mindful eating.
7. Get Clear On What You Love *And Politely Decline What You Don’t*
This is, without a doubt, my #1 TOP Healthy Holiday Eating Tip. Go into the party with a list (bonus points if you write it down) or awareness surrounding your favorite holiday foods that you love and look forward to every single season (homemade snickerdoodles, mulled wine, etc.). Allow yourself to mindfully indulge in these foods, but make sure you’re saying no to the clutter foods that waste space (both in your belly and mentally) that you always regret eating (i.e. the prepackaged chips and dip or Costco cookies).
If you’re feeling pressured by the host/hostess, don’t make excuses and remember you truly don’t have to justify your choices. Rather politely smile and explain eating this way makes you feel better, or that you’re saving room for your favorite dessert, etc. then move on.
8. Hydrate Pre, During + Post-Party
Hydration is SO key for optimal health, and all of those holiday beverages will leave you feeling anything but. Before you go out, commit to drinking at least 64 oz prior to the event, and drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you imbibe in. Don’t forget to cap off the night with more water and my favorite hangover prevention/cure, activated coconut charcoal.
9. Boost Glutathione Levels
Drinking alcohol depletes glutathione, which is an antioxidant CRUCIAL in helping our bodies defend against toxins, so you’ll want to make sure you do lots of activities pre/post party to aid your body in detoxification.
Try any form of exercise that gets you to sweat (or an infrared sauna), drinking lots of water (100 oz) and make sure you’re incorporating glutathione-rich foods like cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussels, kale, cauliflower) and vitamin-b rich foods (eggs, beef liver, beans/lentils, spinach, avocado, etc.)
You can also try taking supplements that support liver function including activated b vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E, Activated Coconut Charcoal and N-acetyl cysteine which is a precursor to glutathione.
10. Have A Game Plan To Help You Feel Better The Next Day
If you do over-indulge or wakeup the next day feeling hungover/bloated, try immediately incorporating one positive action step to help you feel better and back in control (this could look like drinking a huge glass of water with lemon, getting outside for a walk, or making yourself a nutrient-dense smoothie or scramble).
Remember positive habits build off one another, so if you start the next day off immediately on a healthy note, you’re more likely to continue that trend throughout the rest of the day.
PRO-TIP — Don’t forget to take it easy on yourself, we’re all human, and beating yourself up about the previous night’s choices won’t do yourself any good (nor will one night of less than ideal behavior negate the effects of consistent healthy choices). You always, ALWAYS have an opportunity to start over and choose again.