Holiday parties are ubiquitous this time of year, which can make it pretty hard to follow healthy eating habits given the slew of unhealthy (yet tasty) options found at most office celebrations. However, I’m here to tell you that there’s a way to avoid total diet sabotage while still making your agency’s holiday party enjoyable. The secret lies in organizing a healthy potluck.
Some people equate the word healthy with boring food that doesn’t taste very good. I admit that sometimes I even find myself thinking that way. But as the employees of DMH’s Metro North site in Wakefield proved to me yesterday, healthy can be anything but boring and bad-tasting. Julie Burke and her staff graciously invited me to attend the healthy potluck lunch they were holding after my Lunch ‘n Learn, which featured some of the tastiest food I’ve ever eaten. I was treated to fresh-cut veggies and red pepper hummus; a savory filled celery appetizer; a delicious salad of dark greens (which are much more nutritious than iceberg lettuce, the standard salad green), cranberries, and sliced almonds; turkey chili with lots of beans (for added fiber and protein); and whole grain lentil soup. These dishes were filled with the fiber, vitamins, and minerals our body needs for optimal health, and they tasted anything but the stereotypical definition of healthy – they were full of flavor, filling, and showcased unique and exciting ways to serve vegetables and other healthy ingredients. These were foods you could easily make and eat every day and still feel satisfied.
If your agency or worksite is thinking of ways to make its holiday party a little bit healthier, take a cue from the DMH Metro North site office and organize a healthy potluck. Ask each employee to bring a dish that features lots of fruits, veggies, legumes, or whole grains and is low in saturated fat and high in either fiber or lean protein. There’s even room for dessert – try a fruit tray with a variety of dips (caramel, dark chocolate, and a ricotta-based dip are all good options). If your agency is hosting a healthy potluck this holiday season, I’d love to hear about it and even see pictures. Here’s to a healthy – and happy – holiday party!