What to Eat: Social Events

Navigating the cornucopia of delicious foods at parties and social events is always a challenge, but even more so when you’re trying to stick to a healthier weight maintenance plan.

If you have other dietary restrictions or food allergies, you’re probably already resigned to gazing longingly at all the tasty treats you can’t eat, but these tips can help you, too! The next time you’re faced with a holiday party, work event, or family dinner, keep these tips in mind to stay on track.

Apps & Snacks

Appetizers run the gamut from salad to cream-filled cheese dips, so the only real way to ensure the event has a snack for you is to bring it yourself. Instead of chips and dip, try crudité (fresh raw vegetables) with hummus or guacamole.

If you’re dying to sample a dip, swap the chips for crunchy vegetables like celery or bell peppers. You’ll still get the full effect, but won’t add the calories and carbs.

Salads are a great starter option, though you’ll want to avoid pre-dressed options. Look for simpler spinach, romaine, or kale salads with DIY dressing options. If you’re making a salad to share, start with a spinach or kale base and add pomegranate seeds, pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds), and a crumbled feta or goat cheese for a festive effect.

Sinfully Sweet

Eyeballing the parade of desserts on the potluck table? Reach for the fruit platter first—which you thoughtfully brought! If your sweet tooth requires more, think about portion control, then select the one dessert you truly can’t live without and give yourself a fruit cup-sized portion. The key is to walk away from the desserts after you serve yourself.

If you want to make and bring something sweet, you could try your hand at homemade whipped cream (lightly sweetened) and avocado-based chocolate pudding.

The Main Meal

Potluck dishes tend to rely on simplicity of transport, which results in lots of casseroles and other heavy recipes. The more you need to assemble the dish yourself, the more likely it is to be a good option.

Whether you’re cooking to share or choosing from the buffet line, look for customizable choices like tacos or fajitas or hamburgers and simply skip the tortilla or bun. Soups, chilis, and stews can also be great potluck options, but watch out for bisques and noodle-based soups full of heavy cream or flour.

Slow cookers are great for making easy-to-transport meals to share—especially since you can keep the dish hot during the event. Meat-centric options like pulled chicken or pork are always a hit, whether presented as taco filling, sandwich fixings, or on their own.

The easiest way to ensure you have waistline and tummy-friendly options is to make and bring something yourself. Unless it’s a catered event, most hosts will be happy to see you bring a dish to share. Think about the types of foods you find most tempting, then look for ways to make a healthier version and you’ll be popular with everyone at the event!