Three simple tips for ringing in a healthy New Year

Holiday celebrations are drawing to a close, but not without one last hurrah. And in my experience, New Year’s eve parties present some of the biggest challenges of all. So today, I thought I’d offer up a few simple tips for navigating tonight’s festivities.

1: Eat before you go.

This is a holiday mantra among dieters. So I’ll skip right over the obvious advice and take it one step further…

Don’t just eat a healthy dinner before you head out for the night. Replace one of your earlier meals with a protein shake, too. It’s a perfect strategy to make sure you’re getting the fuel your body needs to power through late nights.

Just make sure you’re using the right protein powder to make your shake. The best choices are whey-based and contain no added sugar and no more than 8 grams of carbs per serving. (My NuLogic Nutritionals WheyLogic meets all of these standards — and it tastes delicious, too. But any formula that fits the bill will do.)

2: Don’t drink your calories.

Don’t worry — I’m not suggesting you ring in the New Year with a boring glass of water.

Just stay away from beer and wine. (Yes, even red wine — unless you want a hefty serving of sugar with your polyphenols.) Spirits and sugar-free mixers are the way to go here. (Think vodka and club soda with a twist of lime, or a dirty martini without the vermouth.)

That said, please don’t take this advice as carte blanche to overdo it. I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but the fact of the matter is drinking too much leads to bad decisions. Including — and maybe especially — the food you eat.

Also, keep in mind that your body metabolizes alcohol first, before anything else you put in your mouth. Too much alcohol will slow your metabolism down if you aren’t careful.

So do yourself a favor and cut yourself off after two cocktails. You’ll still have fun… and you won’t be kicking yourself the next morning.

3: Stay away from the buffet table.

I’m not saying you can’t eat. But setting up camp near the food is just asking for trouble. Besides, if you eat before you go (see step No. 1 above), you shouldn’t be hungry when you arrive.

If you find you’re a bit peckish halfway through the party, go ahead and have a snack. Just be smart about it. Stick with cheese (skip the cracker). Have a small handful of nuts. Or fill a plate with crudité.

Chances are you’ll find something acceptable to snack on. If you’re worried, you can always bringing a “hostess gift” of gourmet mixed nuts or 80% cacao dark chocolate bars instead. Leave them out for party guests when you arrive. And break off a small piece for yourself if you really need to nibble on something.

Just remember that the size of your waistline is entirely up to you, every day of the year.