Holiday Party Survival Guide

— Written By Janice Fields and last updated by Denese Prevatte

How many times have you been to a holiday party and later regretted all the food and beverage indulgences? Unfortunately, the resulting extra pounds are difficult to remove and increase our risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. The key is to learn to enjoy holiday parties without overeating.

Adding the following strategies might be your secret weapon to a weight management plan. Think of the calories you consume as money you’re spending. Very few of us have unlimited bank accounts. Likewise, our bodies cannot burn unlimited numbers of calories. Sooner or later, we will pay dearly for our over-indulgence.

Prepare before you go to a party. Don’t go hungry. Hunger makes it difficult to turn away from food and drink temptations. One strategy to try is the “1- to 2-bite rule.” Studies show that 1-2 bites can leave you just as satisfied as eating the entire thing, only with much less guilt. For example, instead of eating a whole piece of cake, try eating 1 or 2 bites.

The buffet is also a danger zone. Change your thinking about the buffet. It is not your buffet to taste everything! Even if you just eat a little bit of everything, it will probably be way too many calories. Be selective amongst the large variety. Zero in on what you really want to spend your calorie budget on. Also, position yourself away from the food and drink, making it less appealing to grab more food.

Often at parties, someone comes around to refill your glass. It is easy to lose count of how many glasses (calories) you’re consuming. One tip that may help is to hold your wine or tea glass in your hand. That way you can control how many times your glass is refilled. Also, remember to save your sugar calories for food. One little cup of punch can provide 150 calories. Water is always a better choice, because it is calorie-free. If you’re making punch, try using calorie-free ingredients.

It is also a good idea to limit your alcohol calories. Wine has about 125-200 calories per 5 ounces. Beer has about 125-150 calories, and liquor has about 100 calories per 1½ ounces, not counting mixers. Double that for specialty drinks.

Eggnog is a popular holiday beverage with around 180 calories for a mere 4 ounces. If you like eggnog, try drinking less of it. Try a low-fat version or use it to flavor your coffee instead of drinking it straight. You can make a latte by using ¼ cup eggnog and ¼ cup milk with coffee. Consider using it as an ingredient instead of a beverage. For example, use eggnog when making French toast.

Finally, get plenty of sleep and stay active. Lack of sleep increases appetite and fatigue while decreasing calorie burning. You’re feeling too tired to move but not too tired to eat. Find a fun activity to burn off those extra holiday calories. Deploy your secret weapons during the holidays and don’t gain extra pounds.

For more information, please contact Janice Fields, Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at, or visit our website at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.