Holiday parties are wonderful. You get to visit with friends and family and celebrate this joyous time of year. However, they can take a toll on your waistline. With this in mind, I've compiled a list of party menu items that will not leave you with a belly that shakes like a bowl-full of jelly!
1. Bruschetta and Salsa - both these toppings are filled with fresh tomatoes and herbs. They are filling, delicious, and low in calories.
2. Veggie Platter - this may seem like a given, but filling up on veggies will prevent you from overeating later. They're rich in fiber and nutrients that will leave you satisfied and feeling good. If you fill your plate with 3/4 veggies, your plate will look visually full, and you'll have plenty to nosh on without expanding your waistline. (Having a dollop of dip, because of its fat-content, actually aids in nutrient absorption!)
3. Hummus - this popular dip is made from chickpeas which are high in protein and will leave you feeling full much longer than fatty or sugary snacks. Bonus: hummus is low in fat and calories, too!
4. Salmon and Shrimp - smoked salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which promote heart health and have recently been shown to reduce belly fat. Shrimp are high in protein and low in fat and calories, plus they're delicious...you can't beat that!
5. Fruit and Cheese - cheese is high in calcium and pretty much a staple at any holiday party. Be wary, though, it's also high in fat and calories. Allow yourself a modest serving, about the size of your index finger, which typically runs about 100 calories. Fruit is rich in nutrients and a great alternative to crackers.
6. Chicken - it's a great source of lean protein and a 1 oz serving delivers 9 grams of essential protein. But, pass it by if it's double-deep fried (or at least avoid eating the skin)!
7. Mixed Nuts - a small handful of nuts (about 20-25) is loaded with fiber and protein. The fat, fiber and protein will leave you feeling full longer which will come in handy when the desserts are rolled out! Stay away if they look honey-roasted (a.k.a. covered with sugar).
8. Red Wine - red wine is filled with polyphenols which lower blood pressure and encourage overall heart health. To cut calories even further, make it a spritzer - 1/2 wine and 1/2 seltzer.
9. Dessert - there is really no "best" option here, unless there's a fruit salad. But honestly, who wants to eat fruit salad for dessert at a holiday party?! My advice is to survey all the desserts available and decide on 1 or maybe 2 that you want to try. Take a small sliver and really taste and enjoy it. If you still feel like you want more, have a cup of coffee, tea, or even water, then check back in to see if you're truly hungry for more.
If you enjoy these foods at the holiday parties you attend this year, you'll be able to celebrate the season without having to shop for a new wardrobe afterwards!
Happy, healthy holiday!