5 Ways to Eat Well at Holiday Parties

'Tis the season! 'Tis the holiday season for family, friends, love and gaining weight.  

A study in Physiology and Behavior notes that the average weight gain in Western countries from mid-November to mid-January is 0.5 kg or 1.1 lbs. each year (1).  The study also noted that people who are overweight or obese gained more weight than those of a healthy weight (more than 1.1 lbs.), so you may actually gain more than that during the holiday season.  Over the long-term those pounds add up too!

But you don't have to gain weight during the holidays!  Today I'm going to share with you 5 tips to prevent weight gain during the holiday season and how to stay on track at holiday parties.

1.  It's never too late.  Never too late for what?  Never too late to start eating optimally or working towards nutritional excellence.  Don't make excuses why you can't start now.  I have clients taking their first steps all throughout December!  

I recently asked my yoga teacher how to get into a daily yoga and meditation practice while my life is a bit unstable (moving to a new house, leaving the west coast to visit family on the east coast etc.).  I told her "I'll just start once I'm settled."  "No" she said, "start today.  Start right now."  And that's exactly what I did.  I'm not doing it perfectly but I'm trying and despite the holiday season, starting right away is helping me cope during the craziness of the holiday season.  

2.  Bring healthy food with you to share.  

Going to a party?  You're definitely more likely to eat poorly if there's nothing healthy to eat!  The most important thing is that you have a yummy, plant-based dish to eat.  Bring a pan of baked sweet potatoes dusted with cinnamon, or stuff them with apple chunks, cranberries and festive spices (check out my holiday Pinterest boards for more party food recipes).  If your dish is the only thing you can eat at the party, that's okay! 

I've done this before too at family holiday parties.  To avoid eating mountains of chocolate chip cookies and Christmas fudge, I brought my own healthy, holiday muffins and cookies. Everytime I passed that table and wanted to give into those Christmas treats, I just grabbed one of my muffins which brings me to the next tip...

3.  Get the heck away from the food table!  

Especially if you know you'll eat foods you don't want to.  Don't socialize around the food.  Take what you want to eat and eat it away from that table.  Distract yourself from the cookies, treats and chocolate, with good conversation catching up with family and friends.

4.  Eat before you go to a party.  

This will help you eat better once you arrive.  You won't be starved, and looking to mask the hunger pain with whatever food you can get your hands on.  You don't have to stuff yourself silly before you arrive, but feel pleasantly satisfied and when you do finally feel hungry, eat some of the healthy food you brought, or fresh fruit or salad.  

5.  Start or keep exercising.  

This doesn't mean I want you to start practicing for a marathon around the holidays.  What I am saying though, is even 20 minutes of exercise 5-6 days a week, especially on the day you're going to a party or having family over, is going to help you tremendously.  Just walk up and down your stairs 10-20 times or go on a brisk 20 minute walk.  

How will this exercise help you?  You'll feel more energetic, in control and exercise suppresses appetite (2)!         

Bonus TIp!

6.  Let the party hosts know you're eating healthy, plant-based (or vegan).  

Not only are the hosts more likely to accommodate you or tell you what you can't eat, but you're more likely to hold yourself accountable to your diet.  You'll feel quite embarrassed if you're caught by the host eating meatballs and ice-cream all night long.

Take Control Now Question

Which of these tips will you apply this holiday season?  Have another tip to share?

Answer by clicking 'comment' below.


  1. Schoeller DA. The effect of holiday weight gain on body weight. Physiol Behav. 2014 Jul;134:66-9.
  2. Manore MM. Exercise-Trained Men and Women: Role of Exercise and Diet on Appetite and Energy Intake. Nutrients. 2014 Nov 10;6(11):4935-4960.