November 27, 2018
I know what you're thinking...Healthy and Holiday are two words that you rarely see in the same sentence. When we think of holiday eating, we think indulgent, rich foods. However, with the holidays seemingly starting earlier and earlier every year (seriously there were Christmas decorations up well before Halloween was over this year, what gives?), offering healthier options at office parties can be a welcome relief. Now I'm not talking removing treats entirely, I believe that all foods can fit into a healthy diet, I merely want you to think about having a good balance of foods at your next Holiday Potluck.
The first step in creating a healthier office potluck is creating a sign-up sheet. Asking for employees to sign-up to bring a certain type of dish ensures that you not only get healthier items but also a variety of items. Include dishes like vegetable trays, fruit platters, and salads on the sign-up sheet, in addition to your standard appetizers and entrees. If you have employees with dietary restrictions or allergies you can also request items for them. Offering a wide variety of foods allows people to eat what they wish.
Once the sign-up sheet is sent out, as the person leading the way, it's up to you to lead by example. Sign-up to bring one of the healthier items like a fantastic salad. Remember that healthy doesn't need to be bland or boring. Need a bit of inspiration? Why not try this beet, orange and jicama salad or this citrus kale and avocado salad.
Did you know that where you place items in a buffet line can impact what goes on people's plates? Start with the vegetables first. People will instinctually fill more of their plate with items at the beginning of the buffet line simply because there's more room. The same goes for the dessert table. Putting fruit in front of sweet treats gives people ample opportunity to add them to their plate before it gets filled with other things.
Egg Nog, while delicious, contains approximately 220 calories and 20 grams of sugar per cup; and that's before you add any alcohol. Similar to food, make sure to offer a variety of low or no calorie drink options such as coffee, tea, and sparkling water. The company can supply these, or you can even add them as options on your sign-up sheet.
At the end of the day, the Holidays are the time for celebrating. An office potluck allows your employees to have fun together before the holiday break. Creating a bit of structure ensures that there's a good mix of healthy options as well as indulgent treats. This provides enough choice so that everyone can eat whatever they wish and enjoy the party.
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In my practice, I often work with people who are managing a chronic disease (diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.) and while weight loss is never a focus, there is a common misconception that when individuals start making dietary changes to manage their chronic disease, weight loss will follow. After all, we're always taught that if we eat the "right" foods and move in the "right" ways, our bodies will get smaller.