(CLEVELAND CLINIC) – Whether you’re planning a bash of your own or you’re heading to a friend’s house to watch the big game, there’s one thing you can bet on – there will be plenty of food.
But for those of us watching our diets, the parties can put us in a bit of a quandary.
According to Lindsay Malone, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, one way around the problem is to bring healthy dishes to share.
“If you’re going to a party and you want to make sure that there’s enough options there for you to eat healthy, one of the best things you can do is bring some vegetables,” said Malone. “This can be things like carrot sticks, celery sticks, peppers, fresh salsa, or chili with tomatoes and some beans.”
Malone said pairing vegetables with spinach and artichoke, or buffalo chicken dip allows you to enjoy your dipping sauce, but still have some balance.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re eating enough fiber, protein and drinking enough water leading up to the festivities so that you don’t arrive at your destination feeling famished.
“When you’re starving, your brain is just going to tell you to eat,” said Malone. “It doesn’t care that you want to eat healthy, or that you’re trying to watch your waistline, it just knows that you need to eat.”
It’s not a good idea to drink your calories either. If you’re planning on having a beer, or some soda, Malone recommends sticking to one drink and alternating it with something else like seltzer water or iced tea.
If the party is at your house, you can still serve up traditional party dishes without breaking the calorie bank if you look for alternative ways to prepare them.
Malone said food items such as wings, potato skins, and french fries can be made in an air fryer.
“An air fryer cooks without a lot of oil, so you can do your chicken fingers or your chicken wings in the air fryer and still get your protein without the really inflammatory fats that come with frying foods,” she said.
To avoid a bad night’s sleep or an upset stomach on Monday morning, don’t overdo it. Malone suggests checking in with yourself around half-time on how much you’ve eaten.
If you’re feeling stuffed, plan for some water and fresh fruit for the second half so that when it’s time to drive home, you’re feeling good and ready to call it a night.