It sounds counterintuitive to eat, "pre-eat" as Reno says, before you head out to a party where food is served. But Reno finds that once she's satisfied with a small nutritious and balanced snack, she's less tempted to indulge in "unknown" foods at a party. "I am not ragingly hungry and can simply enjoy a few morsels," she says. "Besides, a plate piled high with food is not the best accessory for your little black dress."
A party isn't a party without a glass of something strong. But not drinking does not make you a party pooper. You can drink lightly and make it look as though you have been drinking all night.
To start, "avoid the sugary drinks," advises Reno. "Then make smart choices — when at the bar I like to extend my alcohol with sparkling water. It's still a cocktail." Swap out a glass of chardonnay for a white wine spritzer instead, sub that tonic water for club soda and a twist of lime, or indulge in a glass of antioxidant-rich red wine. Then hydrate.
Cut out foods made with ingredients you can’t pronounce (like on the back of your favorite processed chips). Instead, pick something from the party spread that is recognizable as what it really is — food — like roast vegetable skewers or stuffed figs. Fruits and vegetables aside, Reno recommends looking for smoked salmon, bean-based dips, shrimp, or even chicken skewers on the appetizer table.
When it comes to cutting back on calories without sacrificing flavor, it helps to have vegetables on your side, the more colorful the better. Serve up a rainbow of vegetables with a light bean dip, or even a roasted vegetable salad on endive spears. These foods are filled with lots of fiber and a slew of essential nutrients, offering health benefits such as weight loss, anti-aging, disease-fighting, and immune protection.
"At a party, there should be no issue both watching your waist and indulging in delicious food," says Reno. When planning the menu, choose fresh produce for maximum flavor, then supplement with herbs, spices, and other ingredients to add texture.
When hosting a party at home, Reno makes her homemade guacamole go twice as far by adding a burst of flavor and texture from chopped cucumber and pico de gallo. Or instead of serving up bowls of plain old cocktail nuts, amplify the flavor with a sweet and spicy coating that will satisfy your taste buds with just a few — rather than multiple handfuls
For every glass of wine, bottle of beer, or mixed drink, enjoy a glass of water — sparkling perhaps — with a squeeze of lime. It looks just like a vodka soda. "I always go for Perrier water in one hand and red wine or straight potato-based vodka in the other," says Reno. "I make myself a double-fisted drinker to keep myself hydrated." Plus, it keeps your hands busy (and away from the appetizers).
Looking forward to feasting on homemade cheese ravioli, rich eggplant Parmesan, and fork-tender short ribs at a dinner party? Skipping breakfast and opting for a meager salad at lunch might seem wise at the time, but come 5 p.m., you’ll be famished and will want to eat everything in sight says Reno. “Instead, eat as normal — and pre-eat. That way you can sample and enjoy but not binge.”
It’s so easy to lose track of all those tuna tartare appetizers and still-warm risotto balls you picked up while immersed in conversation, drink in hand, or those handfuls of salty cocktail nuts snuck in each time you refilled your drink. Bolster your willpower by eating something before the party, then hold off on filling up on anything else until dinner is served.
For casual parties, nothing is wrong with adding something active to the agenda. Head out for a long walk, ice-skate, or cross-country ski, and then come back to a big pot of vegetable soup and salad for lunch. Or pack a healthy snack and spend the afternoon on a hike or bike ride. Then come back for tea and a piece of chocolate — after all, you’ve earned the small indulgence.
With the cocktails and potato chips with truffle aioli before dinner, coupled with the rich aromas coming from the kitchen, sometimes resisting temptation when dining with friends is hard. But skipping breakfast the next morning to spend three hours burning off the prior night’s feast (then realizing you’re famished, only to OD on a giant chicken salad sandwich, chips, and a brownie) isn’t smart.
"If you do indulge, enjoy the fact that you did — it was a party after all," says Reno. "Then just eat lightly the next day." Enjoy a small, balanced meal every three hours, and drink plenty of water to help flush your system. "Now would be a good time to get your greens in," adds Reno.