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Do's and don't's for smart party snacking
by Laurel |  Oct 10, 2013

With the holiday season just around the corner, you'll soon be reaching for your party attire on more than one occasion. However, with the abundant, often unhealthy fare at these bashes, it might become a struggle to fit into your little black dress.

Between high-fat appetizers, sugary cocktails and rich desserts, there are a slew of temptations that can derail your diet. Plus, eating in a group and socializing can distract you, causing you to consume more calories. So how do you relax and enjoy yourself without having to loosen your belt? Before you head to your next soirée, consider these tips for smart snacking:

Set yourself up for success. The secret to eating healthy at a social gathering is to nosh on the right things throughout the day. You might think that cutting out breakfast or lunch will save you calories, but in the long run, you'll end up famished and over-eat at the party. Start your day with oatmeal, which releases sugar slowly, keeping you satiated and avoiding a crash later on. Then incorporate high-fiber foods into your lunch, like whole wheat bread, avocado and black beans.

Have a healthy snack before leaving, especially if you haven't eaten in three hours or more, as you want to avoid arriving to the party in starvation mode and overdoing it on the hors d'oeuvres. Judith Wurtman, co-author of "The Serotonin Power Diet," told Harvard magazine that eating approximately 150 calories worth of a low-fat complex carbohydrate, sans protein, can trigger the happy chemicals in your brain that curb your appetite. Try eating a serving of whole grain crackers or pretzels before you head out the door and you'll have more control around the appetizers. The david kirsch pre-party nosh-nixing kit provides a dynamite combo of nutrient-dense formulas that fill you up while blasting fat at the same time.

Be mindful about your beverages. It's easy to lose track of your drinking at a social gathering as well. Go for a simple glass of champagne or a light beer, which you're less likely to knock back than a sweet punch or cocktail. Or, try making a spritzer by adding soda water to white wine. Diluting the alcohol will not only cut down on calories but also help you to keep your wits about you so you don't over-indulge.

Linger near the buffet table. Standing right next to the bowls of chips and dip can cause you to mindlessly munch away, meaning you lose track of how much you've consumed. Barbara Boothby, nutrition services manager at Harvard University, told Harvard magazine that it's best to take a small plate, select one or two things you're truly craving, and then make your way across the room. You can eat larger portions if you opt for filling, unprocessed foods, such as crudités and shrimp cocktail. Also, remember that there is a right way to dip: Go for low-cal salsas or high-fiber hummus over cheesy artichoke or ranch.

Multitask while you're munching. Real Simple magazine explained that when you're chatting with other guests, you're likely to consume more calories. That doesn't mean you have to be anti-social, just put your plate down when you're mid-conversation so you can concentrate on what you're eating.

Sample everything. You may think that trying a little bit of everything is a good strategy, but actually, Fitness magazine reported that research has shown having a wide variety of tastes and textures on your plate may fuel your appetite.

Choose foods before all the options are out. According to Real Simple, when people make their decisions with everything on the table, they eat 14 percent less than those who select dishes individually. Once the spread is set, survey everything and pick what you'll really enjoy.

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