How Nutritionists Eat at Holiday Parties

Holiday party season is in full swing, meaning plenty of opportunities on the agenda for ugly Christmas sweaters, mingling under the mistletoe, and indulging in all the things you probably shouldn't eat. While evening gatherings, especially of the holiday variety, are brimming with temptations that threaten your commitments to healthy eating, it is possible to make your holiday party rounds without completely ruining your diet.

To determine the strategies the experts take when navigating the tricky terrain of the holiday party buffet table, Well+Good tapped top nutritionists to weigh in on the subject. Keep reading to see a few of the ways nutritionists stick to healthy eating, even when bountiful holiday buffets are spread before them.

Assess the situation. When you first make it to the buffet table, it may be tempting to just start loading up on what looks good. Simply grabbing what first catches your eye will lead you to make less-sound choices, and you'll end up filling up on things you don't even necessarily want. Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, recommends doing a lap before filling up your plate. "I check out what there is before diving in," she says, then adds to her plate a balanced assortment of various bites.

Make a plate. While it may seem more mindful to just take a few bites here and there rather than load up a plate of food, Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD, CDN, recommends the exact opposite. "I have a bit of a control problem with pickable things like nuts and chips, so instead I go for a [serving-size] option like charcuterie—especially prosciutto, which is high in protein," she confesses. Fixing yourself a plate will allow you to create a more balanced meal and keep you to fixed portion sizes. You'll end up feeling more satisfied and will certainly make healthier choices than you would have simply grazing from the whole spread.

Go for balance. We all know that the key to a healthy diet is balance. But when faced with a beautiful spread of enticing bites, that can be difficult to keep in mind. Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, recommends filling your plate with a wide variety of foods rather than stocking up on one thing in particular. She makes sure to devote half her plate to veggies and leaves and the other half to protein and carbs. "This allows me to feel satisfied without feeling stuffed," she notes, adding, "No going back for seconds!"

Head to the comments to chime in with your own strategies for healthy party eating and browse the best buffets to house your holiday needs.