What to pick at parties

Looking forward to the holiday season but worried about piling on the pounds? Discover our top tips for eating well whilst staying in the party spirit...

What to pick at parties

We've all done it - an over-generous handful of peanuts here, a couple of cheese straws there, the odd glass of wine or two before you know it, that little black dress you'd planned to wear on New Year's Eve is revealing a little more than your cleavage.

The good news is that by making a few simple changes, you can enjoy the festive season without missing out on all the fun. Most buffets offer healthy choices as well as high-fat, high-calorie items, so you just need to follow a few simple rules...

Good intentions...

Almond butter

If you're heading to a party straight after work, have a low-GI snack, like a bowl of cereal, a couple of oatcakes spread with reduced-fat cheese or a yogurt before you go. That way youwon't arrive hungry.

Make your first drink a large glass of sparkling water. It will help to both fill your stomach and quench your thirst. That way you can pace yourself when you get to the alcohol.

Don't let the buffet table be your downfall - put some food on your plate, then move away. Studies show that the greater the choice of food on offer, the more calories we're likely to eat. Instead of trying a little bit of everything, limit yourself to three or four choices.

Avoid anything with pastry - even filo and steer well clear of anything that's been deep-fried.

If canapés or nibbles are constantly being offered while you re chatting, just say no. It's really difficult to gauge how much you re eating if you re constantly nibbling - much better to wait and have a more balanced snack or meal when you get home.


Foods to avoid...

Avocados are full of fat - it may be the healthy, unsaturated variety but, sadly, the body doesn't differentiate between good and bad fats when it comes to your hips or waist. Just 1 heaped tablespoon of guacamole contains around 120 calories. Add a handful of tortilla chips and it's easy to consume the equivalent of a full-blown meal in just a few minutes.

It's high in fibre (which is good) but also in fat (not so good) - 2 tablespoons (60g) contains 120 calories.

Crisps, tortilla chips and prawn crackers
Just say no - how many of us can stop at just one handful? The problem with high-fat foods is that they don' t send the same 'I'm full' signals to the brain as fibre-rich foods. Don't try to kid yourself that trendy vegetables crisps are a healthier option - they're not!

Better for you than crisps, but still high-fat, so proceed with caution. a small handful (25g) of salted peanuts contains 150 calories.

Build your own bruschetta Healthy swaps - Instead of...

  • Houmous, choose tzatziki
  • Cheese straws, choose bread sticks
  • Pringles, choose Twiglets
  • Garlic bread, choose bruschetta
  • Mini sausage rolls, choose cocktail sausages
  • Prawn crackers, choose tiger prawns
  • Cream cheese dip, choose yogurt dip
  • Mini pork pie, choose mini pizza
  • Spring rolls, choose sushi
  • Peanuts, choose olives


What's your tipple?

Orange bellinisThere's no reason to miss out on the fun, but remember that alcohol stimulates the appetite and may weaken your resolve to eat sensibly. Unless otherwise stated, 1 glass equals 125ml:

  • 1 glass dry white wine 83 cals
  • 1 glass sparkling white wine 93 cals
  • 1 glass sweet white wine 118 cals
  • 1 glass red wine 86 cals
  • 1 glass Champagne 95 cals
  • Vodka and tonic 85 cals
  • Bloody Mary 72 cals
  • Cuba Libre (rum, diet Coke and lime juice) 50 cals
  • 1 glass (50ml) Bailey's Irish Cream 160 cals
  • Gin and tonic 90 cals
  • Gin and slimline tonic 52 cals
  • Pina Colada 260 cals
  • 1 bottle (½ pint) lager 90 cals
  • ½ pint dry cider 105 cals
  • 113ml tomato juice 16 cals
  • 1 glass (250ml) cranberry juice 122 cals
  • Sea Breeze (vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice) 120 cals

    Looking for healthy recipes? Take a look at our low-fat and low-calorie collections

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