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Helpful Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties

Reviewers: Academy Nutrition Information Services Team

Published: December 06, 2019

Reviewed: November 02, 2023

Helpful Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties
dolgachov/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

For many, as the winter holidays approach, parties become numerous along with platters of rich and delicious seasonal foods. If you are hosting or attending a gathering this holiday season and want to lighten up your offerings without sacrificing taste, you have plenty of options.

Try swapping out a few ingredients in your favorite recipes with some of these simple tips.

  • Try low-sodium vegetable broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and cut back on butter or margarine.
  • Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads such as banana bread. Try substituting a small amount at first, as too much may change the texture of the finished product.
  • For dips and sauces, try using fat-free yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise.
  • Try sliced or slivered almonds as a delicious, crunchy topping in place of fried onions.
  • Choose reduced-fat or fat-free cheeses for salads and casseroles.

Pack your shopping cart with plenty of fresh produce including sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, carrots and green beans. Apples, fresh cranberries and pears combine easily for a tasty salad, fruit crisp or topping for the turkey.

If you are a guest at a dinner party or other gathering, consider these tips to keep your night healthy, happy and safe:

  • Try starting your day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruit, vegetables and some type of lean protein. Skipping meals before the event may lead some people to overeat later.
  • Socialize and settle into the festivities before seeking out the buffet.
  • Savor foods you truly enjoy and pass on those that don't really interest you.
  • Move your socializing away from the buffet tables or appetizer trays. This will minimize the unconscious nibbling.

When it comes to alcohol, satisfy your thirst by drinking water first. If you are of legal age and choose to drink, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks for men.

Keep in mind, even a single drink may affect your reflexes for several hours. If you plan to drink, keep your holidays merry for everyone by designating a driver who won't be drinking.

The holidays are a great time for gathering with friends and family over food and drinks. With just a little preparation, you can enjoy celebratory foods mindfully and still experience all that the season has to offer.

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