10 Healthy Steps to Navigating a Holiday Party
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image by Alexandre Duret-Lutz design by W Brian Duncan

This year Brian and I have two holiday parties to attend. They are both this Saturday. After training all morning, I’ll have about 30 minutes before my next-door neighbor’s cookie party. We’ll get a few hours “off” before we go to Brian’s office party. It’s a small affair with his team and their significant others. But two parties in the same day? How does one manage that both mentally and physically?

You must have a game plan. Step by step here is how I plan on surviving a two party day while staying true to my goals. And I’ll still have a good time while I am at it.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep the night before. Not only does lack of sleep make me less pleasant to be around, it also contributes to cravings for unhealthy foods. If I don’t start training sessions till 9 am, pretty normal for a Saturday, then I can get a full 8 hours.
  2. Eat breakfast and don’t try to save up calories. I never skip meals anymore. I used to try and it would always back fire with dropping blood sugar levels. When my blood sugar dips all I want are sugary carbs and lots of them. This is a bad place to be before a cookie party. I’ll have my usual meals as planned.
  3. Stay hydrated. We can often confuse dehydration with hunger. I plan on drinking plenty of water prior to all parties. I don’t drink but this advice becomes even more important if you want to enjoy a cocktail or two.
  4. You don’t have to be the first one there or the last one to leave. The cookie party starts at 1 pm but we won’t be the first ones there. We will probably arrive 15-20 minutes after the start and leave about 30 minutes early. No on notices or takes offense. Plus you limit the awkward time when it’s just you and the host.
  5. Keep your hands busy. I bring a cup of tea to the cookie party and take pictures with my phone. Ironically, I used to bring a diet coke and now my hostess presents me with one every year. I politically decline. Brian drinks it instead. I plan on taking plenty of pictures at Brian’s office party too. They should consider themselves warned.
  6. Meditate. I plan on taking a “time out” between parties. Just 10 minutes of meditation or quiet breathing can go a long way to keeping your sanity, especially if your holiday party involves too much “family” togetherness.
  7. Eat before the party. I will have dinner before we go the office party. I’ll think of the goodies I might want to sample as a part of my evening snack.
  8. Bring the healthy dish. I am still trying to figure out what to bring. We’ll take cookies since Brian is baking but I want something that tastes good that isn’t full of sugar. I also want something that lets me enjoy without reaching for things that will make me feel awful – like the cheese tray.
  9. Have a signal for when it’s time to go. As a couple it’s important to communicate. It’s better to decide earlier than later when it’s time to leave. When I get bored I eat. When I get cranky I eat. It’s best to leave before either of these happen.
  10. Be the designated driver. As I said, I don’t drink. It makes me the perfect DD. If you volunteer you’ll save calories and an explanation as to why you’re not drinking. Plus your friends will love you for it.

I think it’s also important to remember that we aren’t perfect. If you’ve been spot on in your training and eating clean, it’s okay to have a splurge. If there is one party you look forward to every year for it’s delicious food and good cheer then enjoy it. You just need to plan ahead and choose wisely. Once is a treat, every day is a habit.

How do you treat holiday parties – splurge or keep it clean? Do you have a proven technique to to stay away from the buffet? Or a healthy dish that everyone loves for you to bring?

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