Low Fat Eating At Holiday Parties

Eating healthy is the cornerstone of lowering cholesterol. Frances Twitty, istockphoto

It’s the holidays, which means time for holiday parties that include the four F’s: family, friends, fun, and –- of course –- food. Many people may put lowering their cholesterol on hold so that they can partake in the tasty holiday festivities, while others feel extreme guilt after engulfing one too many of the “forbidden foods”. What you may not know is that you can still enjoy holiday parties at the office or at family gatherings without feeling guilty.

Whether you are preparing –- or eating –- the food for your next holiday party, these tips will help you to lower the amount of fat you consume, enjoy the food festivities, and stick to your low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Let the eating begin!

Always Start With The Vegetable/Fruit Tray

Practically every party has them –- the veggie or fruit tray. Not only is this a healthy way to start off the holiday feast, filling up with these foods first will help you to reduce temptation to eat some of the other foods that are higher in fat.

Dips and Dressings to the Side

Instead pouring dips and dressings directly on your veggies, why don’t you put a little bit of your favorite topping on the side and dip your veggies? Smothering your veggies with these products can add extra calories –- and fat –- to your food. You would be surprised how little you need to make your vegetables, or other foods, taste great.

Avoid the Fried Stuff

That familiar fatty breading on your foods may signify that it’s going to taste good, but is also means that food is very high in fat.
Rather than eating fried foods, go for foods that are roasted, baked, broiled, or boiled. These can be just as tasty as fried foods, but are friendlier to your waistline –- and your cholesterol levels.

Trim Off Excess Fat

When it comes to the meat tray, make sure you trim off any excess fat you may see on your meats.
Doing this can reduce calories and the amount of fat that you are consuming. While all meats contain high amounts of fat, you may want to opt for leaner portions of meat, such as turkey and white meat chicken. Fish, such as trout, tuna, and salmon, are also good choices of meat. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and considered heart healthy due to their ability to lower triglycerides.

Use Whole Grains

When surveying your options for carbohydrates, stick to breads, crackers and pastas that are whole wheat. These are higher in fiber, which can help to lower your cholesterol levels. High fiber foods also have an additional benefit –- they can make you feel fuller.

Opt For Low Fat Substitutes

You can also opt for low fat versions of your favorite foods. Most places will usually have these options available for you –- especially when it comes to dressings for your salads or margarine. If you are the one preparing the dish to bring to your next party, why not use some of the following substitutions in the foods you prepare:
  • Use skim milk or low-fat milk in making foods instead of cream or whole milk
  • Use cheeses and yogurt made from low-fat milk
  • Look for low-fat versions of popular dressings
The words “low-fat” or “skim” should be written on the container, but if you are uncertain that a product is low in fat, you can look at the label on the back of the food container. It should have little or no fat in that food if it is low-fat.

Everything In Moderation…

So, you’re tempted by that piece of deep fried shrimp that is sitting by itself on that lonely tray and you decide to eat it. That’s alright to do –- as long as you don’t go looking for its sisters on another tray and engulf all of them, too. Everyone has a guilty pleasure, and giving into that is OK every once in a while –- as long as you don’t go overboard or make a habit of it. Moderation is also very important when following a low-fat diet. Eating low-fat doesn’t mean that you are severely restricted in what you can eat –- there are a variety of options out there for you to select from. Following these tips can help prevent you from completely deviating from your low fat diet during the holidays and keep your cholesterol levels from increasing.


Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 3rd ed 2005.

Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Heath: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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