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Holiday Parties: 10 Steps to Low-Carb Success

Enjoying the Season With Fewer Carbs

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Updated December 08, 2012

Holiday Parties: 10 Steps to Low-Carb Success
Photo: Romilly Lockyer/Getty Images
The holiday party season is here, and even more than parties at other times, it tends to be a real carb-fest! Cookies, candy, desserts, and holiday breads are added to the usual array of crackers, chips, and rolls. Before you eat your way into a carb-induced stupor, take some time to think ahead to avoid overindulging.

Before you Go

1. Make a game plan, and try to be realistic. Do you think you want to make it though the party totally “on plan"? If not, how much of a deviation do you want to allow yourself? Think about how you will feel afterwards. Having a few bites of something off-plan won’t break the bank, but you don’t have to give in to “all or nothing thinking,” either. Eating a cookie doesn’t need to be the beginning of a long night of “carbing out." On the other hand, you might decide that there is one special party where you’ll choose to indulge. The important thing is to see it as a planned deviation, and not slide into a frame of mind that says, “Oh, well, there’s always New Years.”

2. Ask the hostess if you can bring something, and make sure it is yummy, as well as on your food plan. That way you know you’ll have something to fall back on.

3. Don’t leave the house half-starved. That’s an open invitation to scarf down the first five things your eyes fall on. Eat a substantial snack with protein, fat, and fiber in it (example: "roll ups" of turkey slices with spinach dip as a filling). With stable blood sugar, you’ll be more able to think clearly and make good decisions, too.

When you Get There

4. Case the joint –- check out the food scene, and form a plan. If you’ve planned a treat, figure out what it will be, but don’t grab it yet. Just know that later on, it will be yours. (If you’re worried it will be gone, see if you can find somewhere to stash it.)

5. Continue to think “protein, fiber, fat.” Head for these things first, which will make it easier to limit your treats later. Good bets: veggies and dip, cheese tray (there is no law saying you have to put the cheese on a cracker), sausage cubes, nuts. Put a small amount on your napkin and go find someone to talk to, away from the food.

6. Get something to drink. Good choices are something calorie-free or dry wine. Avoid sugary mixers. Hold the drink in your dominant hand (right hand if you’re right-handed) as long as you’re standing near food. (This trick works better than you’d think. It delays the “reaching instinct” long enough for your brain to engage.)

The Party Continues

7. Keep your focus on conversation and entertainment, preferably away from the food table. When you veer closer, stick to small amounts and veer away again. Think “nibble” rather than “bite.”

8. After an alcoholic drink, make the next one or two calorie-free drinks. This not only cuts down on carbs and calories, but helps keep your good judgment intact.

9. If there is a buffet dinner, focus on the low-carb foods: salads, vegetables, meats, fruit. These usually are far more tasty than the potatoes and rice, anyway.

Sweet Endings

10. Now it’s time for your treat, if you’ve decided to have it. The rule is: Enjoy every bite. This requires focus. And be aware of the “Law of Diminishing Dessert Returns:” The first few bites are usually the best. If your enjoyment is lessening, why continue? You’ve had a great time celebrating, the evening is a success, and no regrets or “carb hangovers” the next day.
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Low Carb Diets
  4. Low Carb 101
  5. Low-Carb Living
  6. Holiday Parties - Low-Carb Success and Parties

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