Your Easy-Yet-Indulgent Holiday Party Guide to Mindful Eating

When the holidays kick into full gear, we can expect parties, office treats, and sugar cookies galore. What's a mindful eater to do with so much extra stimulus? Here's how to fully enjoy the holiday season while still fitting into your sweaters.

Have a signature dish.

Whether it’s a work party or a New Years soiree, you’re bound to see a lot of the same (indulgent) foods at all social gatherings. Platters of sugar cookies, salted nuts, and cheese and crackers are quite the crowd-pleasers. What’s a healthy eater to do when kale isn’t on the menu? The thing is, most hosts recommend easy plates because they don’t want to ask too much of their guests. But if you become known for your to-die-for citrus salad or Greek yogurt parfaits, you’re guaranteed to have something good on the table. Bringing a dish that satisfies your dietary preferences is the easiest way to guarantee that there’s at least one safe option, so you never have to settle for treats you don’t really enjoy.

Make your first drink virgin.

For those that imbibe, holiday parties are a wonderful time to sip on mulled wine, spiked cider, or other festive cocktails. However, the sooner you start drinking, the sooner your food choices will be influenced by said cocktails. If tee-totaling all night doesn’t sound like a plan, just make your first drink non-alcoholic. Sip on tea or seltzer while you get settled and take time to decide what you want to eat and drink. Once you have a glass of Merlot in your hand, the refills come faster than you can say “jingle bells,” so delaying it even by an hour can significantly reduce your total intake of the night. Pro tip: if you are drinking alcohol, try sneaking in a small glass of water in between each drink. Smarter drinking and no headache tomorrow morning? Joy to the world.

Be a social butterfly.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling antisocial at a party, I get comfortable at the snack table. The less I mingle, the more I munch, and suddenly—oops, there goes the whole bowl of Chex mix. Make more mindful decisions about your actions by making a round of the room before chowing down. Say hi to old friends, learn about their significant others, and thank the host for having you. It also gives you a good opportunity to ask about the dishes people brought. They’ll eagerly share their recipe and you can decide if you want to try your cousin’s coconut cake that has “so much butter it’d make Paula Deen gasp.” Knowledge is power.

Sharing is caring.

Food is about gathering. We eat around long tables, cook in big batches, and make a feast for every holiday. Bring that mentality to your plate by sharing the bite-sized appetizers with anyone that asks. Just because you have five mini quiches doesn’t mean you have to eat all five—when you’re raving about ‘em to someone who has yet to try ‘em, share the love. It’ll help prevent mindless eating and give you a good conversation starter.