How to enjoy a healthy Christmas party

December is a joyous month of parties and celebrations with family, friends and colleagues. Indulging yourself in tasty nibbles and a few festive tipples is all part of the fun. However, we all know the run-down feeling you can get after an overly excessive party season. Whether you are attending a party or hosting your own, it could be easier than you realise to banish the bloat and keep your healthy lifestyle on track. 

If you’re a host

Throwing your own party, whether it’s for a few close friends or the whole street, can feel like a massive task. Keep stress at bay by planning ahead – that way you won’t be tempted to dash around the shops and make unhealthy food choices. Our suggested healthy party nibbles can be prepared in advance, so you can enjoy getting ready for your party at your leisure.

What to serve

A colourful spread is not only inviting, it is also likely to be lighter and fresher. Swap sausage rolls and bread sticks for a range of crudités and dips. A feast of carrots and grilled peppers and artichokes served with hummus and salsa is nutritious and easy to share.

Provide rice cakes and popcorn for guests to snack on, instead of crisps and salted nuts. These alternatives are lower in salt and fat, and are also effective at absorbing alcohol.2

Open-top mince pies made with filo pastry are much lower in fat and calories than those made with puff or shortcrust pastry. The crispiness of filo also adds a new twist to this traditional treat1

What to plan

Prepare some ideas for silly party games or slightly more sophisticated activities. This will help you to relax ahead of your party as you can be confident of breaking the ice, especially if many of the guests don’t know each other. Whether you fancy karaoke, dancing or a game of Twister, activities help to get everyone moving and will also take the focus away from the food table.

If you’re a guest

When you attend a party hosted by someone else, you can’t control what food will be served but you can always find the healthy alternatives. The worst offenders are items that are breaded or wrapped in pastry, along with heavily salted snacks such as peanuts. Even opting for tortilla chips instead of crisps and satay instead of bhajis can significantly reduce your calorie intake2.

What to bring

Offer to bring a food contribution to the party. Not only will you be helping your friend out but you can be confident of having at least one healthy thing on your plate. Dishes such as marinated chicken bites or sushi bites can be prepared ahead of time and easily transported. If you don’t have time to cook, pick up traditional offerings such as satsumas and chestnuts which need very little preparation.

What to drink

Watching how much alcohol you’re consuming is particularly important if you have a full schedule of parties to attend. We still have to function during the party season, so moderate your intake to make sure you don’t get too run down. Toast your health with one of our suggestions of lighter drinks.

You could try swapping your large glass of wine for a spritzer made from half wine, half soda water. Happily, champagne and prosecco are low calorie drinks and so are healthier alternatives to wine. The prize for the drink with the fewest calories goes to vodka with soda water – and you can add a splash of lime cordial to liven up the taste. It is also a good idea to follow the advice your parents always gave you – try and have a glass of water between alcoholic drinks. This keeps you hydrated and means you won’t be drinking to quench thirst. Festive mocktails make a delicious alternative to mulled wine. Combine fruit juices with cloves and warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. See our drinks table below for the calorie content of popular alcoholic drinks3

Look after yourself

Party season is a fun time, but it can get exhausting. Stay your best and most party-ready self by getting plenty of sleep and eating well to compensate for the excesses of Christmas. For more advice on maintaining winter health and well-being, book a dietary consultation with BMI Healthcare. 

Sources
1http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthychristmas/Pages/Saynotonibbles.aspx
2http://blog.wcrf-uk.org/2014/12/a-healthier-christmas-party-swap-the-naughty-for-the-nice/

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