Holiday Challenge Week 1

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

What is supposed to be a fun filled holiday celebration can turn even the most fun-loving people into nervous wrecks. Do you have anxiety about making your way through the endless spread of food with your Holiday Challenge goals intact? Have no fear – you can make it through holiday celebrations without throwing caution (and your goals) out the window! With this holiday party survival guide you can make your way through the buffet line without adding inches to your waistline – all it takes are a few tips and a plan. Let’s get started!

Survey the scene. How many times have you stepped up to the buffet and filled your plate only to get to the end of the table and have no room left for something you really wanted to try? Before joining the line and especially before placing any food onto your plate, take a peek at what food is offered. Make a mental note of the one or two dishes you really want to try. Once you have a mental map of what your plate will look like you can then start filling up.

Downsize and supersize. Start with a smaller, appetizer-sized, plate. You’ll fit fewer rich foods on your plate and keep your calories in check. Instead, supersize the veggies on your plate – vegetables and also fruit are lower in calories and will fill you up, not out.

Don’t drown! In gravy, sauces and high-calorie dressing, that is. Heavy sauces can drown out even the healthiest vegetables. Choose smaller portions (maybe even just a bite to taste) of creamy and cheesy casseroles. The same rule applies for creamy salad dressing: use just a little or better yet, choose a lower-calorie vinaigrette. 

Keep hands occupied. Hold your glass of water with one hand and your plate with another. With your hands full balancing food and drink it will take you longer to eat and will cut down on mindless snacking. 

Stay on the far side of the room away from the food. Once you’ve made your plate, find a place to stand or sit as far as you can manage away from the food. There’s something to that old phrase “out of sight, out of mind.” Catch up with friends and family away from the food where it isn’t within arm’s reach. Wait at least 20 minutes before deciding whether or not to go back for another small bite. 

With these five tips you can successfully survive the holiday party with your confidence intact. For more information or to join the Eat Smart, Move More…Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge, visit

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences