Healthy party tips

How to survive the calorific party season in one piece

Carole Holditch
Carole Holditch
Hayley Mac
Hayley Mac

We’re sorry to be all doom and gloom, but we want you to really think about whether you want that fifth mince pie or fourth glass of bubbly. Why? Holiday weight gain is, it turns out, not just a temporary problem. A medical study in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that the average person in America puts on 1lb during the festive season, but this extra weight is never fully lost. A lifetime accumulation over the holiday season soon adds up – here’s how to prevent it in the first place.

Carole Holditch, founder of Good Habits, Dubai’s premier weight support group, is a former caterer and qualified nutritionist. Here are her top tips on how to ‘avoid being the Christmas pudding and become the Christmas cracker’.

Plan ahead ‘Plan your day around a social occasion, and balance out the food you eat beforehand accordingly. If you’re going to a drinks reception, have a healthy meal first so you avoid calorie-laden canapés. Also, choose carefully and learn to say no to some parties and events.’

Water, water everywhere ‘Always keep a glass of water in front of you at a dinner or party. This will help to fill you up and will reduce the amount you drink.’

Be careful with your finger foods ‘Avoid deep-fried canapés – one tiny cocktail sausage can contain up to 60 calories – and try to steer yourself away from vol-au-vents, quiches or any pastry-based foods. Pastry is usually 50 per cent fat. Instead, opt for vegetable sticks, but watch out for fatty mayonnaise or sour cream dips – one tablespoon of these dips has about 170 calories. Go for yoghurt or vegetable-based dips to save yourself up to 100 calories per tablespoon.’

Don’t drink and diet ‘Alcohol increases your appetite and causes your blood sugar level to drop. It is high in calories and has little or no nutritional value. There’s also the psychological value – drinking will lower your willpower.’
For more advice from Carole or information on her support groups visit

Hayley Mac was once in the corporate world, but she now runs her own health food business, Be Super Natural. She’s passionate about all things raw, and wants to educate Dubai residents about boosting their nutritional intake.

Choose the right comfort food ‘A healthy and filling breakfast is essential. During the holidays, keep it festive by adding some of your favourite colourful berries to your porridge, eating warm pear or apple or making mulled juice by warming up a concoction of cranberry, orange and berry juices with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.’

Go alkaline ‘Avoid some of the acidic foods common during the festive season, such as cheese, and beef – our bodies can’t handle high levels of acid and therefore create fat cells to store it. Get online and find a chart of acid and alkaline foods and try to introduce more of the latter into your diet.’

Opt for Christmas lunch, not dinner ‘Eating your main meal as early as possible ensures proper digestion.’

Snack right ‘If you’re going to a house party, make your own nutritious dips to avoid all the scary and unhealthy preservatives and high salt content found in store-bought dips. I like houmous, salsa and guacamole for the nutritive value. It’s also nice to boast that you’ve made something so yummy!’

Rehydrate ‘If you’re feeling rough after a party, rehydrate with super-nutritious coconut water or watermelon juice. Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks – I know you’ll crave them, but they’ll just dehydrate you further and prolong the pain. My favourite hangover food is a smoothie made with maca, an alkaloid-rich South American root that helps to balance hormones, and camu-camu, the extract from a small Amazonian tree that is rich in vitamin C and promotes white blood cells and boosts the immune system.’
For more advice from Hayley or info on buying maca and camu-camu, visit

Hayley’s party guacamole

• 3 large ripe avocados
• 2 medium tomatoes, diced
• 1 small red onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic (or two if you’re a particular garlic fan)
• Juice of 1 lime
• Pinch of Himalayan pink or Celtic sea salt
• 1 tbsp flax seed oil
• Chopped coriander leaves
• Fresh chilli

‘Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz them to the desired texture. I like mine a little chunky, but you may prefer yours smooth. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, chop all ingredients and mash the mixture with a fork.’

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