12/12/2013 02:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Staying Clean During Christmas Party Season

Last week on DDP Radio, my fellow hosts and I discussed the intriguing topic of staying the course with clean eating during the holidays so we don't find ourselves in January with the unpleasant task of having to work double time to get back to where we were. I mean, January's a depressing enough month with the 4 p.m. sunsets and 20-degree temperatures, why compound it by side-lining my vitality and not being able to button my jeans?

Since eating is a highly personal endeavor, we all pretty much have to decide the limits and boundaries for ourselves. I can't tell you how to eat, but I can give you a few glimpses into how I'm handling it. Before food and its particulars even come into the equation, the foundation of it all begins with the self-inquiring: What Do I Really Want? Once I answer that question, attending Christmas parties and not pouncing on every hors' d' oeuvre platter that wafts by me at jaw-level becomes an easier task.

Nearly five years ago, I made the decision that I wanted the 180-pound monkey of extra weight off my back more than I wanted handfuls of cheese cubes, frosted sugar cookies, and philo-dough-encased spinach pillows. Those were only three of the offerings at my first holiday party of the season recently, and might I add, very tempting ones. I could have rationalized that the cheese was full of calcium and protein and the spinach had iron and fiber, but because of the pact made with my inner-overeater, I declined them. Without irritation. And that's not because I'm a saint, but simply because I planned ahead of time and packed protection.

Answering the self-inquiry is important, but not quite enough ammunition to bring to a party loaded with tempting aromas and flavors. To not bring along clean, delicious food to eat before, during, or after, would be sheer torture. I knew what I was in for that first Christmas party two weeks ago. It was held at a top-notch restaurant and catered by one of the best in the business. So what did I do? It may not seem glamorous, but on the way up the winding driveway to the restaurant, there I sat in the passenger seat of our car, scarfing down a generous portion of chia seed pudding. Made with almond milk and enhanced with unsweetened coconut flakes, it's one of my favorite clean and nutrient-dense desserts. No one's going to confuse it with Creme Brulee. But it was cardamom-tinged and the coconut gave it just the right amount of muted sweetness. The almond milk base is loaded with calcium and has an astonishingly low calorie count because it's unsweetened. And let's just say when Mother Nature invented the chia seed, she hard-wired it with the ability to chase hunger away like a freight train.

So thanks to the delicious bounty of protection I bestowed on myself, I was able to enjoy the party, focus on guests with clarity, and enjoy a few of the protein and vegetable options put forth by the caterers, who mercifully realized, that not everyone wants to be back at square one on Jan. 1.