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Healthy Eating Tips for Holiday Parties

Originally posted here.

The holidays are a time of celebration. Parties and get-togethers with friends, family, and coworkers all have two things in common: food and drink. For people on dialysis, these social gatherings can also mean tough choices about what to eat and drink. It’s important to enjoy yourself and have fun during social gatherings but also to make healthy choices! Be prepared with these tips to help you to navigate holiday parties successfully:

  1. Don’t arrive hungry — have a snack before you arrive. This will help you to make smarter choices because your eyes and empty stomach won’t be steering you towards everything in sight. A protein-based snack can be a great way to take off the “hunger edge” because it can help you feel full without creating a surge in blood sugar like snacks high in sugar and simple carbohydrates.

  2. Distract yourself — Holiday parties are times to be social, so enjoy the company. Look at the selections and take your time at the food table to make smart decisions. When you finish making a plate, sit down and chat. Having a conversation while eating can help you eat more slowly

  3. Moderation and portion control — A good general rule is that everything is okay to eat in moderation. Depending on your specific dietary needs, the portion sizes for some foods should be smaller than others. For example, if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, watch out for high sugar foods and drinks.

  4. Watch your plate — Pay attention to how many times you’ve filled your plate, rather than grazing throughout the party, and it will be easier to remember how much you’ve eaten.

  5. Avoid alcoholAlcoholic drinks are typically high in sugar and calories. Opt for seltzer or other water-based beverages instead. If you are drinking alcohol, be mindful that these calories add up, even if they don’t make you feel full. Alcohol can also affect your judgment and your ability to make other healthy food choices.

  6. Steer clear of the salt, especially watch meats — Many buffets and pot-luck dinners include meats. Be sure to always follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for protein intake and keep in mind that some meats are highly processed, making them high in salt and phosphorus additives. Typically, a sodium-phosphate solution is injected into the processed deli meats that you will find on a buffet table. Reducing your salt intake can greatly impact blood pressure control.

  7. Just a taste — A holiday party is a treat, so treat yourself, but don’t overdo it! Take small portions of foods you don’t eat on a regular basis. Sometimes a bite-size (tbsp) serving of a special food can satisfy a craving.

  8. Speak up! — It's okay to say, "no thanks" when someone suggests you re-join them in the buffet line or offers you “seconds.” Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into eating more than you would like.

  9. Bring a healthy dish — As your pot luck dish, choose a healthy option that you know you can eat. This will then be a “safe” food that you know you can eat at the party.

  10. Don’t let your sweet tooth take over — With tempting desserts left and right, it can be easy for your inner sweet tooth to compete with your self-control this time of year. Try to split desserts with a friend or family member instead of e