Holiday Party Survival Guide
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How to Eat Well and Enjoy the Christmas Holiday Party Season

By Andrea Holwegner, Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc.

christmas holiday survival guide to eating well

Let’s face it: one of the most wonderful things about the holidays is all those parties, staff functions and family get-togethers that bring light to the dark months of winter. But as we look to the idea of gingerbread, chocolates and eggnog with anticipation, there may also be a feeling of frustration with how these events can impact our health and nutrition goals.

While we tend to feel that we are at the mercy of our guests or hosts when it comes to party foods, you do have some control! Read on for some quick and painless tips on surviving holiday parties – both for hosting and attending.

4 Tips to Eat Better when Attending Holiday Parties:

1. Don’t Arrive Hungry

Getting to a party feeling satisfied rather than starving can make a huge difference in how much you eat and what foods you choose. When our blood sugars are low, it’s natural to reach for foods that are quick sources of fat, sugar and calories. It’s not a reflection of your willpower – it’s biological! Take that pressure off of yourself by enjoying a quick bowl of cereal, a small sandwich, or some yogurt and fruit, as you get ready for the party.

2. Drink Water

Research shows that our craving for snacks is often a result of dehydration. At the same time, alcohol not only is a source of calories, but it also stimulates our appetites and dehydrates us further, making us want to snack more. Have a glass of water when you arrive, as well as between each “beverage”, to keep yourself hydrated while minimizing intake of empty calories.

3. Eat Your Veggies First!

Mom was right.don’t eat dessert before you’ve had supper! Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite treats at a party – whether it’s those irresistibly crispy chips, that decadent cheese platter, or those darn chocolates that keep calling your name – just promise yourself to fill up on veggies first so that you’ll eat less treats, while getting some good fibre and nutrition in that day.

Also, avoid having more than 60g of fibre per day since this can lead to dehydration and even some nutrient deficiencies.

4. Bring Something Nutritious

You can’t complain that there’s nothing healthy to eat at a party if you have not contributed yourself! Experiment with exotic salad recipes, try a low-fat cheese and whole grain cracker tray, or fall back on the classic fruit & veggie trays. There will always be someone else at the party who will appreciate this break from the decadence of the holidays!

4 Tips to Feed your Guests Better at your Party:

1. Focus on the Vegetables

It’s safe to assume that most of us are low on our veggie intake during the holidays. Instead of hunting for grandma’s Yule log recipe, or spending hours icing cakes and cookies, let guests bring the treats and focus your efforts on foods that are both delicious and nutritious. Surprise guests with stuffed peppers and mushrooms, mini veggie burgers, baked zucchini sticks, eggplant parmesan, bean salad or grilled veggie-kabobs.

2. Make Water Accessible

Water can help to not only decrease food intake, but also keep guests hydrated and less affected by their beverages! Provide ample ice water in pitchers, or offer cold bottles of water, in an area that is easily seen and accessed.

3. Minimize Portion Sizes

Studies have shown that the more food that is put in front of us the more we will eat, without really feeling a difference in fullness or satisfaction! At the same time, nobody gorges on food that there is only a small amount of since they want to be respectful to other guests. While you will want to keep an ample stock of squares, chips and other treats on hand, put out only small amounts at a time, cut squares and cookies into smaller bite-sized pieces, and pour chips into smaller bowls. This way everyone still has the satisfaction of enjoying “a few” treats, while you have cleverly minimized the quantity they are actually taking in!

Also, avoid having more than 60g of fibre per day since this can lead to dehydration and even some nutrient deficiencies.

4. Burn Some of Those Calories!

No matter how hard you try, your guests are likely going to eat and drink far more than they need to! Plan some fun ice-breaker games to get guests walking around rather than sitting, clear the furniture and recruit your bravest guests to entice others to dance, or suggest a group stroll to take in the neighborhood Christmas lights!

Happy Holidays!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As seen in


Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This