Diet danger zone: How to socialize and still lose weight this season

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:15 a.m. ET

It’s not easy to keep losing weight during the holiday season. In fact, even the best-laid diet plans usually grind to a screeching halt as soon as those party invitations start coming in.

Christmas buffet

But you don’t need to skip every soiree just to stay on track. We put together some easy ways to have some festive fun without worrying about weight gain.

Eat before you go

Going to a party on an empty stomach is the biggest mistake a lot of us make. We get ready, rush out the door and dive headlong into the buffet table. Rather than risk overeating while you’re out, have a small but healthy meal before you leave. Choose something high in protein and heavy on the veggies (salad with grilled chicken or tofu, for instance) so you’ll be satisfied but not too full. That way, you won’t eat everything in sight.

Sip wisely

Liquid calories are sneaky, and all of that festive cheer in a glass adds up — and fast. Some creamy cocktails can pack more of a caloric punch than half of the items on the buffet table, so be careful what you drink. Your best bet: white wine spritzers (made with sparking water or club soda) with a twist of lime and ice. You can still enjoy a few drinks, but by cutting the wine with a no-calorie beverage you’re making a much more weight-conscious choice. Plus the added sparkling water or club soda helps you pace yourself.

Talk more, eat less

The more you’re chatting and socializing with the people at the party, the less you’re eating. So make it your goal at any holiday bash to get to know those around you. The more involved in a conversation you get, the less you’ll be thinking about food and the less opportunity you’ll have to hover around the buffet table.


One of the best ways to steer clear of overeating is to keep moving. Mix, mingle and dance instead of getting rooted to one spot. Getting stuck in one place at the party means you might get bored, and once you’re bored, it gets a lot more tempting to snack to help keep yourself occupied. So rather than stay put, start circulating.

Snack smarter

Just because you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself — just be smart about what you snack on. Focus on fresh items and non-creamy dips; rather than ranch dip, head over to the salsa with your carrot sticks. Instead of fried mushrooms or crab cakes, go for the grilled shrimp or something else that didn’t come out of a deep fryer. If there’s something you absolutely have to have, go for it but in a small portion (or better yet, share with a friend). That way you can satisfy your craving without going overboard.

Offer to help

If you’re shy or don’t feel like mingling, another good way to keep away from all those tempting treats is to lend a hand to the hostess. Ask if she needs help getting dinner ready or if you can be of service in any other way. By keeping busy and helping out, you won’t have time for a round trip around the snack table.

More diet and nutrition tips

10 Superfoods for your holiday health
Healthy holiday diet fixes for new moms
How to handle emotional eating during the holidays