The holidays are here, which means lots of fun gatherings and parties packed full of delicious food and drinks! It’s easy to get carried away with the homemade stuffing, cakes and spiked egg nog – but that can really take a toll on your waistline if you aren’t careful!

Here are some things I do to try and eat healthy during holiday parties.

Don’t save up all day for your party at night. I hear a lot of people say, “Oh, I haven’t eaten all day, so that I could eat lots tonight.”  This is bad for so many reasons.  First, eating small, consistent, healthy meals throughout the day is the best way to keep your metabolism up.  Also, you are guaranteed to over-indulge if you are starving going to a party.  Try to eat normal and healthy throughout the day of a party or have a nutritious snack before you go. Try a protein bar, some nuts and fruit, Greek yogurt with granola or whole grain bread with natural peanut butter or avocados. That way you aren’t grabbing everything in sight when you get there because you haven’t eaten all day!

One drink, one water. Not near as much fun – I know – but liquor and mixers are filled with tons of empty calories and sometimes mixers can have a lot of sugar in them.  I am for sure not telling you not to drink because that’s what holiday parties are for, but switch out one for one.  That way you are not over doing it and still staying hydrated.  Also, you won’t feel like crap in the morning so you can hit the gym instead of the snooze button.

Aim for healthy options. Shrimp cocktail and turkey are both lean proteins that will fill you up.  Olives and cheese, in moderation, have healthy fats. Cheese is packed with vitamins, minerals and the fatty acids that help reduce the risk of type two diabetes. Olives have vitamin E, phytonutrients and oleic acid, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and helping to reduce cholesterol.    Red wine is good for your heart.  Be aware of dips and dressings.  If you are hitting up the veggie tray, aim for the hummus or just a little bit of the ranch dressing.  Hummus is the healthier of the two options, but studies also show that a little bit of the fat from the dressing can help you absorb the vegetable nutrients better. Salsa is always a great option, as it’s super low calorie. Guacamole in moderation is great because avocados are loaded with heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.  Some nuts from the mixed nut bowl is a good option as well as they are packed with protein and fiber.  Did you know that almonds are the best for disease prevention, peanuts are best for the brain and walnuts are best for your heart? Dark chocolate is a great option as it is packed with antioxidants and is very effective at improving your cardiovascular health (again in moderation and aim for dark chocolate made with at least 70% cocoa.)

Keep moving! It’s easy to over indulge and then want to lounge around, but try to stay active. Help the hostess clean up or take the kids outside for some football or games!

I’d love to hear what your favorite holiday party food (or drink) is?  It’s so much fun to get together with loved ones and celebrate the season!