Six Plan-ahead Tips to Party Smarter

woman chooses grapes from a holiday buffet table

Sticking to your healthy eating goals can be a lot harder this time of year.

But with a little planning, you can enjoy every minute of this season’s parties without going overboard on fat, calories, or sweets.

Follow these 6 tips to enjoy all the festivities December has to offer, without having to pay for it later.

  1. Don't go hungry. Snack on healthy, filling foods before you leave the house. You'll be less tempted by high-calorie options if your stomach isn't growling. Good pre-party bets include a handful of nuts, cheese and crackers, or half a turkey sandwich.
  2. Get water first. Once you arrive, drink a glass of water to help you feel full and avoid over-indulging. And don't head straight for the food – make a point of greeting friends or introducing yourself to new people.
  3. Load up on the good stuff. When it does come time to eat, fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables (and go easy on the dip).
  4. Indulge last. Leave just a little space on your plate for a small sample of whatever unhealthy treat you're craving, but eat that last, after you've filled up on the more nutritious offerings.
  5. Position yourself for success. If you're standing by the buffet table or facing the food while seated, you'll be tempted to “graze.” Turn your back to the table, and focus on having fun, not having food.
  6. Limit alcohol. Not only are alcoholic drinks loaded with calories, but they also tend to weaken your resolve to eat better. If you do indulge, avoid high-calorie holiday drinks and stick with light beer or a glass of wine instead.

Be a healthy host

When you are the host planning the party, include options that allow your health-conscious guests to make smart choices. Offer water and other non-alcoholic beverages. Include healthy, low-fat choices like fresh fruits and vegetables on your buffet table. And substitute healthy ingredients to make lighter versions of your favorite holiday dishes.

  • Use whole-wheat flour to replace half of the white flour called for in a recipe.
  • Use evaporated skim milk instead of whole milk or cream in baked goods, sauces, and soups.
  • Use reduced-fat yogurt to replace all or part of the sour cream or mayonnaise in a recipe.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


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