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Best Bets on the Buffet

Making smart choices allows you to eat plenty of food, and not feel deprived. Here are my picks for the best and worst holiday food choices:

Best Bets Worst Bets
Crudities with salsa or low-fat dressing Chips, creamy dips, anything fried
Pretzels, popcorn, baked chips Cheese straws, fried snacks
Handful of plain nuts Handful or more of candy or candied nuts
Fresh fruits and vegetables Fried veggies, wings
Shrimp cocktail, clams, oysters, smoked salmon Fried seafood
Low-fat cheeses on water crackers, low-fat crackers, or Melba toast High-fat cheeses and crackers
Vegetable or broth-based soup Cream soups or bisques
Baked sweet potatoes Sweet potato casserole
Cranberry relish or gelatin salad Cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes with a dab of gravy, or a plain baked potato Lots of gravy with your mashed potatoes or a loaded baked potato
White-meat turkey without skin Dark-meat turkey with skin
Lean meats without visible fat Processed meats, sausages, fatty meats
Simply prepared veggies Veggies in cream sauces, casseroles, or topped with fried onions or cheese
Cornbread-, oyster- or fruit-based stuffing Stuffing with sausage
Whole-wheat dinner rolls Croissants
Pumpkin or mincemeat pie Pecan pie with whipped cream
Fruit sorbet, sherbet, or frozen yogurt Cake or ice cream
Apple cider, mimosa, or bloody Mary Eggnog
Chocolate-dipped strawberries Fruitcake or fudge

My Personal Party Strategies

My goal is to be at a good weight before the holidays commence. Halloween is my official start date. If my weight is not satisfactory, I exercise more and swear off wine with dinner as well as all sweets and treats. All the extra Halloween candy is given away, and I keep temptations around the house to a minimum.

Over the years I have subscribed to a few basic rules whenever I go to a buffet or party:

  • Always wear a snug-fitting outfit that does not easily expand. Carry a clutch bag that keeps one hand occupied.
  • Eat a small but filling meal before leaving home, such as a bowl of soup or a vegetable salad, so I can resist the hors d'oeuvres.
  • If I don't love it, I don't eat it. This is my golden rule at all times. I hate wasting food, but I hate extra pounds even more.
  • No lingering around the buffet table, bar, or appetizer or dessert display.
  • Limit cocktails to two, with sparkling water and lime rounding out the evening.
  • Engage in mindful eating: make a plate of food, sit down, and enjoy. This helps me recognize when I'm full and means I'm less likely to mindlessly eat the rest of the evening.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule and indulge -- but just a little, and no second helpings.

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