Whether you celebrate Eid Ad-Adha, the Winter Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or none of these, if you are currently employed, one thing for sure you will be celebrating this year is your office holiday party. That glorious evening of white elephants, clunking mugs of hot toddies, the hacking and rasping of Karaoke Christmas tunes and the endless temptation of unhealthy holiday foods.
As much as the social side of holiday parties can make or break a career… depending on your ability to build relationships vs. sabotage over one too many libations, all of that festive food can be a real challenge to your health and weight as well. The most important rule, aside from being sure you slept well the night before and made time for some exercise the day of the party, is to never leave home hungry.
When it comes to office party eating, more protein, fruit and less refined carbs are part of the answer. I realize this is easier said than done when faced with copious amounts of heavy, high calorie options that only come but once a year, however it’s possible and it really isn’t that difficult. It’s just food! Remember this: you can eat everything you want on the buffet table, OR you can stay thin, fit and healthy. You just can’t do both.
To help you navigate the festive feast, here are some of my go-to rules to follow for mindful eating at holiday parties:
- Begin with the veggies and fruit tray, with dips and dressings on the side.
- What fried food? I didn’t see any. Oh that fried food? Nope, didn’t even see it.
- If it’s not whole wheat bread, crackers and pastas, it’s not making it to my plate.
- Lots of water, but a martini or two is ok also. I mean, it IS the holidays, right?
- Choose wisely when you can. For example brie over gouda, white wine over eggnog, and you can always replace 2 ounces of that wine with club soda to save 50 calories…you can invest in that bite-size dessert pop or another glass of wine.
Most importantly, approach your holiday party with a positive mindset, and commit to your healthy eating game-plan. Disregard the peer pressure and endless excuses that will sway your mind to believe you NEED that extra dessert or one more drink. You know how those go… “this party is only once a year, just go for it.” “I’ll start my healthy eating plan tomorrow.” “come on, one more drink.” Do you really want to go home with your pants loosened and day-wrecking headache on the horizon? In the words of Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, “I don’t think so.”
For all of you prepping for your company’s celebration in the next couple of weeks, I wish you a happy, healthy and pink-slip free evening!