20 best (and worst) bets in the holiday buffet
More: Our best tips for managing stress and temptation.
By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD / LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Expert Column
The opportunities to eat around the holidays seem endless. Combine the abundance of tempting foods in your face with the stress of a to-do list that is out of control, and it's no wonder that we often pack in the pounds of the holidays.
But this year, it's going to be different, right?
Having a plan to handle all the things you need to do, in a short period of time, will help you stay healthy. Some ideas to help relieve stress: buy by catalog, send the same vacation newsletter to all members of your list and limit your social calendar to allow some downtime. And remember, your exercise routine is a priority, even when you do not think you have time. Exercise helps you cope with stress while burning calories and keeps your muscles strong.
The 80/20 rule
Once you get control of your to-do list, the next (and probably the biggest) obstacle is discovering how to enjoy the generosity of food without causing a six-week frenzy to eat.
I am a great believer in the struggle for the "maintenance of social weight" during the holidays. That means allowing some flexibility in your meal plan so you can enjoy your favorite holiday meals. Do not expect to be perfect on vacation. If you consider your plan for additional foods and beverages, you are more likely to keep your weight under control.
To keep, not win, during the holidays, follow the "80/20 rule": 80% of the time, follow your healthy eating plan according to the letter, but 20% of the time, you can enjoy small portions of those favorites once a year. And 100% of the time, do at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity.
The best bets in the buffet
Making smart decisions allows you to eat a lot of food and not feel deprived. Here are my selections for the best and worst vacation food options:
|Best bets||Worst bets|
|Crudezas with sauce or low-fat dressing.||Chips, creamy dips, anything fried.|
|Pretzels, popcorn, baked potatoes.||Cheese Straws, Fried Snacks|
|Handful of simple nuts.||A handful or more candied candies or nuts|
|Fresh fruits and vegetables||Fried vegetables, wings|
|Cocktail of shrimp, clams, oysters, smoked salmon.||Fried seafood|
|Low-fat cheeses in water biscuits, low-fat crackers or Melba toast||Cheeses and cookies with high fat content.|
|Vegetable soup or broth||Cream soups or biscuits|
|Baked Sweet Potatoes||Sweet Potato Stew|
|Blueberry dressing or gelatin salad||Cranberry sauce|
|Mashed potatoes with a little sauce, or a simple baked potato||Lots of salsa with your mashed potatoes or a loaded baked potato|
|White turkey without skin.||Dark meat turkey with skin.|
|Lean meats without visible fat.||Processed meats, sausages, fatty meats.|
|Simply prepared vegetables||Vegetables in cream sauces, stews or covered with fried onion or cheese|
|Stuffing with corn bread, oysters or fruits||Stuffed With Sausage|
|Whole wheat dinner rolls||Croissants|
|Pumpkin pie or minced meat||Pecan Cake with Whipped Cream|
|Fruit sorbet, sorbet or frozen yogurt||Cake or ice cream|
|Apple cider, mimosa or bloody Mary||Eggnog|
|Chocolatewet strawberries||Fruit cake or fudge|
My personal party strategies
My goal is to have a good weight before the holidays start. Halloween is my official start date. If my weight is not satisfactory, I exercise more and reject the wine with dinner, as well as all the sweets and sweets. All additional Halloween treats are given away, and I keep the temptations in the house to a minimum.
Over the years I have subscribed to some basic rules every time I go to a buffet or party:
Always wear a tight suit that does not expand easily. Carry a clutch bag that keeps one hand occupied. Eat a small but abundant meal before leaving home, like a bowl of soup or a vegetable salad, so I can resist hors d'oeuvres. If I do not like it, I do not eat it. This is my golden rule at all times. I hate wasting food, but I hate the pounds even more. Do not delay around the buffet table, bar, snack or dessert display. Limit the cocktails to two, with sparkling water and lime rounding the night. Get involved in a conscious diet: prepare a plate of food, sit down and enjoy yourself. This helps me recognize when I'm full and it means that I'm less likely to eat without thinking the rest of the night. Follow the 80/20 rule and please, but only a little, and no help.
I can not believe I ate that!
The best plans sometimes fail. If you go overboard, do not punish yourself. Just take it off, exercise a little more the next day and learn from it so it does not happen again at the next holiday function.
Establish your own personal rules and do everything possible to stick to them, and do not forget to exercise daily. And remember to relax, the parties are supposed to be fun! Enjoy.
Originally published: December 8, 2006
Medical update: May 3, 2018.
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