You can still enjoy the celebration with these 5 strategies from Cooking Light Diet members.

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Holidays are hard when you’re trying to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Spending hours surrounded by high-calorie appetizers, massive food buffets, and decadent desserts sometimes seems like a lost cause for your diet. We turned to members of the Cooking Light Diet who know what it’s like to be in these sticky situations. We asked them via their community Facebook group for their best holiday eating advice. Whether it’s outdoor grilling season for the Fourth of July or a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, they know how to walk into any holiday situation confidently. The truth is, with goals in mind and a strategy in place, you can stay strong without feeling deprived of holiday festivities.

Snack Before You Arrive

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It seems counterintuitive to eat before you head to a big, food-focused gathering, but showing up to a party with your stomach grumbling can be a huge mistake. It’s best to have a small snack and a glass of water before you head out the door, so when it’s time to hit the buffet you can make smart choices. Cooking Light Diet member Marianna Kinman Donohue says she never shows up to a party starving, and she finds it helps her make better decisions in the long run.

Plan Drinks Accordingly

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Most family events include an alcoholic drink or two, and those liquid calories can build up quickly. Cooking Light Diet member Kristine Elkins recommends planning ahead when it comes to alcoholic beverages. She says, “This year, I'm bringing a bottle of homemade fruit-infused water that looks gorgeous and tastes great, so I can drink that instead of the beer or wine that I would normally quaff. Not only do I save the calories I would have had in alcoholic drinks, but I also avoid the loss of control over my intake that comes along with drinking alcohol. Win-win!” If passing on the booze just isn’t an option (and that’s totally ok!), Cooking Light Diet member Joanne Zuccaro Devaney likes to drink white wine spritzers with a ton of ice, and she alternates these with a tall glass of ice water to stay hydrated. This allows her to feel part of the fun, without overdoing it on the high calorie drinks. You can plan low-calorie, lighter drinks with a slew of our favorite concoctions right here

Know Your Limits

Sometimes just reminding yourself of your personal and calorie goals and why healthy decisions are important to you can be the ticket to success. Cooking Light Diet member Anne Egelhof likes to note her food choices on smartphone applications like MyFitnessPal to keep herself on track. The application lets her know the estimated calories of the foods she plans to eat, so she can make an educated decision based on her personal goals. This also gives her the opportunity to consider if a food she thinks looks good is really worth the calories so she doesn’t mindlessly eat.

Bring Yourself, and the Host, a Gift

It’s never polite to show up empty handed, so Cooking Light Diet members love to bring their own favorite recipes and dishes. Community member Kristine Elkins brings her own sides to family events, like a fresh salad or fruit platter, and she fills her plate with those alternatives. 

Check Your Options

When it comes to buffet style events, plates somehow end up full before you even hit the halfway mark. You’ll often take more on your plate than you planned to, resulting in overeating. It’s important to have a plan in place before just grabbing a plate and piling on all the dishes available. Cooking Light Diet member Joanne Zuccaro Devaney recommends limiting snacks before the main meal, and focus on just the main course. She likes to peruse all the food offerings before making any decisions, but she still allows for small bits of higher calorie options to not fell deprived.

Those are just a few of the many examples of real people making holiday events healthier and more enjoyable via the Cooking Light Diet. For more, head to the Facebook community, or learn more at