Extra LSR: Getting Festive Without Blowing Your Diet.

Have a blast, actually eat, and stay on track.

The holidays are here, and with it comes holiday parties. As much as I look forward to hanging with pals and getting all yule tide-y, I struggle so hard when it comes keeping myself in check when it comes to my diet. (Note: I’m using the term diet to mean my eating habits, not any sort of structured diet plan. I’m all about moderation.)

My weakness: white flour-based treat. Crackers, tortilla chips, cookies? Give it all to me, and save me seconds. This only gets worse if there’s alcohol involved, at which point my willpower plummets.

holiday party wine
We’ve all been there: you tell yourself you won’t eat any of the yummy snacks, or maybe you’ll just have one… next thing you know, you’ve lost count of how many mini red and green sprinkled sugar cookies you’ve eaten. You start logging everything you’ve consumer, only to see your daily calorie intake well above 2k, and you quickly start wondering if you’re going to need to size up in trousers on that next Gap run. What follows: the guilt, irritation at yourself, and just maybe another slip up because, “Hey, I already screwed up this weekend…”

So what do I do to combat this? If I have a party on the books, I follow a few guidelines:

  1. Eat before. And I mean a full, proper meal. (A satisfying, healthy one. Now is not the time to hit The Cheesecake Factory before the party.) Don’t do that thing where you “leave room” in case you want to hit the treat table. Chances are, you’re going to have a cookie. Or a few chips. But if you’ve got a satisfied stomach, you’re much less likely to go back for seconds, thirds, etc.
  2. All the water, all the time, especially during the party. Jazz it up: sparkling with a little lime is one of my jams. Staying hydrated not only keeps you from confusing thirst with hunger, but it also takes that up stomach room a half dozen or so pieces of butterscotch fudge are vying for.
  3. If you’re drinking alcohol, that‘s your cheat food. We all know about the empty calories in alcohol. Minimize the damage by sticking to wine or light beer rather than sugary or creamy mixed drinks. And you’ve got a full stomach from dinner (right?), so you shouldn’t be (too) tempted to reach for snacks.
  4. If you do eat, load up your plate with veggies, fruit, or other healthy offerings. Do this before grabbing that cookie, handful of chips, or a scoop of amazing-but-really-dangerous dip. You’re trying to offset the sugar and empty calories by maxing out on the good for you options.
  5. If you’re craving the cookie, eat the cookie. Completely denying yourself only intensifies a craving. So have a little something of what you’ve been eying for the past hour– after you’ve loaded up on healthy stuff, of course.

Your job becomes even easier if you’re the one hosting the holiday party. Simply buy healthy stuff and limit (or nix) the unhealthy dishes. When I’m hosting, I load up on veggie trays, hummus, fruit, etc. If someone offers to bring something, suggest something fresh + that doesn’t break the calorie bank. If he/she insists on bringing German chocolate-whatever or a few dozen snickerdoodles, let ’em. Just try to steer clear of it until it’s been completely picked over.

Note: I’m not shaming anyone for taking a cheat day. Do your thing– enjoy. There are certainly times I’ve done that: splurged at a party and jumped back on track the next morning. (Or better yet, fasted the next day to balance things out. Read more about intermittent fasting here and here.) But I usually approach the busy holiday party season with a, “Let’s mitigate and manage,” MO.

What are your tips and tricks for playing it straight with your diet during the holidays?


  1. I try to eat really well during the week and then Sat. and Sunday are my cheat days. Altho, if there is a party on Friday night, that can make it rough. I do love the tip on eating BEFORE the party, I don’t know why I’ve never thought of that.


  2. I love this post – so timely! Holiday parties make it hard to not give into temptations. It almost feels like you’re not being festive if you don’t indulge. However, looking great in my clothes IS a priority. Love the suggestions to eat before the party – that’s the biggest help for me. Thanks for sharing, beautiful! XO

  3. So I started my cheat day at the end of November and it will probably run until January 1st haha. I’m so terrible at this time of year as there’s just too much temptation around! I have been trying to be slightly good and not denying myself treats but also not letting myself get carried away as like you say, it’s all about moderation 🙂 x

  4. Great tips! I just hope that there won’t be too much temptation around for me these days. I guess that drinking lots of water is an easy one that can really prevent us from overeating.


    1. Drinking a lot of water keeps you hydrated, for sure- and can help you feel full. Great trick when you’re trying to avoid overeating. 🙂

  5. You read my Mind Ashley. I’m trying to lose weight before New Years, so far so good but the closer I get to Christmas the more nervous I get. I totally needed this post! I’ve been drinking tons of water which keeps me uncomfortably full. I’m going to make Alcohol my “treat” since I don’t drink often it is a treat for me.

  6. The festive season is definitely the biggest diet test of all. Thanks for sharing these tips. I find drinking plenty of water so very helpful.

    XoXo Noma

  7. A great collection of tips, Ashley! I usually end up bringing a giant Nalgene to gatherings (the less formal ones, clearly LOL) which really helps me get my water in. Like you said, moderation! I try and go for treats that aren’t usually available any other time of year, which makes it a little extra special. Thanks for sharing, lady!

    Kathryn • simplykk.com

  8. So because of my heart condition I can’t have alcohol or sugar so the holidays & parties don’t really affect my overall diet. It was a bummer to change my diet so much when I first found out about my heart condition 12 years ago, but now I’m used to it. So it’s great because I don’t have to worry about over indulging at the holidays! 🙂 These are great tips, though, girl! 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing this, lady- I’m sure that was quite the adjustment, but now it’s part of everyday life and you’re definitely set to stay on track during the holiday season. 🙂

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