Let’s Party!

Weightloss IS 1

Throughout the year we go to various wedding receptions, office parties, birthday bashes, summer celebrations, and holiday festivities. But do you ever feel your pants fitting a bit tighter after a few social gatherings? The usual party snacks, buffet food, and drinks served at these events contain high amounts of fat, sodium, and sugar, making it difficult to stay faithful to a diet.

But being on a diet doesn’t mean you have to skip out on partying. In fact, by giving you more energy, self-esteem, and overall happiness, a healthy diet will help you enjoy parties even more. The key is to learn how to choose low fat, nutritional foods at social events so that you can continue to party without putting on the extra pounds.

Calorie Loaded Buffet Tables at Parties

Whether at an office party or wedding reception, we all enjoy getting tasty, free food. On the downside, the foods offered at your typical party buffet are usually packed with diet destroying, fatty calories. And the enticement to return for seconds makes it even harder to keep healthy eating habits at social functions.

One of the best ways to avoid unhealthy foods in these situations is to have a strategy before you hit the buffet line. Before you get a plate, walk past the buffet table to scan your options. Avoid fried foods and creamy soups; instead look for veggies, tomato pastas, and baked or grilled meats. With a basic idea of what you’re going to eat in mind, grab a plate and go for the salad section first and fill up a good portion of your plate with leafy greens and a low fat, vinegar based dressing. That way you can ensure that a sizable segment of your meal is low in calories.

It’s okay if you go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. But on your second go around, use a smaller dessert plate to ensure a smaller portion size, and try to stick mainly with veggies and a small amount of protein.

It’s also okay to pick out one fatty food as a reward. Complete self-restraint is usually doomed for failure, so allow yourself to splurge and have one treat. Just make sure you keep it to a reasonable portion size, like one slice of cake or two scoops of ice cream. That way you satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard. And you can burn off the added calories on the dance floor!

Typical Party Food

The snack foods at your typical party aren’t popular because they’re healthy. In fact, it’s not hard to eat an entire meal’s worth of calories in snack food at a party. We recommend that you eat a healthy snack before you go to a party to allay your appetite. At the party the vegetable and fruit platters are your best friend, just be careful not to overdo on the fatty dips.

It’s certainly okay to get a plate of salty party snacks, just be sure to maintain reasonable portion sizes. As a rule, limit yourself to half a small plate of chips. If you have a choice between salsa and queso dip, go with the salsa, as it’s less fattening. Pretzels are a good low fat alternative to chips, even though they are high in sodium. Also, steer clear of fatty party snacks like chicken wings and hotdogs.

Sodas are a staple party beverage because they’re cheap and popular, but they also have a downside. Containing 16 teaspoons of sugar in just 20 ounces, sodas are one of the leading sources of sugar in the diet of average Americans1. These high calorie, high sugar beverages increase your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The good news is most parties offer water, which is your best option.

But it’s not the end of the word if you eat a chicken wing or drink a soda. On the contrary, just about any party food is fine in moderation. The best plan is to have a predetermined limit of how much junk food and sweets you can have.

What you mainly want to avoid is constant snacking. In their research, Carmen Piernas, Ph.D., and Barry Popkin, Ph.D., identified increased snacking as a significant cause of high obesity rates, especially among children2. Often parties and other social gatherings are where we do the most snacking. As a rule, keep yourself to a two plate limit. Also, try and avoid socializing right next to the food table. Instead, lure your friends into another room and play a fun game or strike up an interesting conversation.


Most parties wouldn’t be complete without wine and beer. Alcohol is okay in moderation, so being on a diet doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from alcohol. In fact, wine has many health benefits. Several studies have shown that red wine reduces your risk of heart disease, for instance. But the American Heart Association recommends no more than one to two drinks for men and one drink for women per day; any more alcohol than that can increase your risk of alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke3. In addition, alcohol has wasted calories you don’t need when trying to lose weight.

The bottom line is this: if you’re on a diet, you can still party! Partying and healthy eating are both important to your quality of life. On the one hand, celebratory events allow you to kick back and enjoy you community of family and friends; on the other hand, nutritious eating habits help you live a longer, happier, and more energetic life. And dieting doesn’t have to detract from your partying, and vice versa. Rather, with the information you now know, you can fill your schedule with social events without filling your body with unhealthy foods.



1 Johnson, R. K., Appel, L. J., & Brands, M. (2009). Dietary Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Health. A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 1011-1020.

2 Piemas, C., & Popkin, B. M. (2010). Trends in Snacking among U.S. Children. Health Affairs, 398-404.

3 Alcohol and Cardiovascular Disease. . (2010, August 22). Retrieved from American Heart Association: www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Alcohol-and-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_305173_Article.jsp


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