Your Holiday Party Survival Guide

We've all been there: You head out to your annual office party with the best of intentions. You fill your plate with crudit?s, you sip seltzer water while your friends slam mojitos, and then you see the dessert cart. After that, the night gets a little fuzzy—an overdose of chocolate truffle cake can do that to a person. The next morning you groan, convinced that you've derailed from your diet.

One night won't kill you. It's often after that first major slide that you start to drift from your healthy eating habits.

More: Holiday Stress Relief Tricks

Tip #1: Choose Your Pleasure

When you arrive at a holiday party or gathering, do a perimeter check while you make the social rounds saying hello. Make a mental note where the healthy options are, what the splurge options are, and then make a healthy eating plan before you dig in. Decide what your "splurge" will be. Love grandma's apple pie? Plan to have a piece. Have a weakness for anything coated in chocolate? Make a mental note to grab a few pieces once you've finished your main, healthy meal.

Start with as close to a balanced meal as you can get, depending on the menu, before any decadent options are introduced to your palate. You're prepping the battle space. It's harder to say yes to a huge piece of chocolate cake when you've just finished a big plate of salad, whole grains and grilled chicken.

A small piece of cake? Yes, but not a huge one. Fill ? to 3/4 of your plate with fresh salad and roasted vegetables, and the rest with a fist-sized portion of lean meat and a scoop of a healthy side dish option like tabouleh, rice, quinoa or beans. Once you've finished your meal and let it digest a bit, give in to that one piece of temptation and don't feel guilty about it at all.

More: 2 Quick and Easy Dessert Recipes

Tip #2: Avoid the Mindless Munching Trap

We all know what those "mindless eating" choices are. They're the foods that if you were given a bowl of them—you would eat every last morsel without even thinking about it. Chips, pretzels, Chex mix, nuts, flavored popcorn and candies usually fall into this category. While not terrible if eaten in moderation, these calorie traps are best avoided at parties.

Have you ever been that person at the party who didn't know that many people? Did you then find yourself making besties with the bowl of chocolate covered pretzels? We've all been there. Why nixing foods entirely from your life is never a good idea because it can lead to binge eating, on these occasions it's a good idea to steer clear of any food that isn't either a healthy choice or your one splurge for the evening.

More: Easy Comfort Food Recipes Made Healthy

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About the Author

Susan Grant Legacki

Susan Grant Legacki is the founding editor of LAVA Magazine, and currently serves as the magazine's features and online editor. Prior to joining LAVA, she worked as a Senior Editor at Inside Triathlon and Triathlete Magazine. She is an Ironman finisher, Boston-qualifying marathoner, certified Pilates instructor—and a fitness and nutrition enthusiast. You can read more about her on Susanegrant.com and follow her on Twitter at @susanglegacki.

Susan Grant Legacki is the founding editor of LAVA Magazine, and currently serves as the magazine's features and online editor. Prior to joining LAVA, she worked as a Senior Editor at Inside Triathlon and Triathlete Magazine. She is an Ironman finisher, Boston-qualifying marathoner, certified Pilates instructor—and a fitness and nutrition enthusiast. You can read more about her on Susanegrant.com and follow her on Twitter at @susanglegacki.

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