20 Best (and Worst) Bets on the Holiday Buffet
Plus: Our top tips for handling stress and temptation.
The opportunities to eat around the holidays seem endless. Couple the
abundance of in-your-face tempting food with the stress of a to-do list that's out of control, and it's
no wonder that we often pack on the holiday pounds.
But this year, it's going to be different, right?
Having a plan for handling all the things you need to do, in a short period
of time, will help keep you sane. A few ideas to help ease the stress: shop by
catalog, send out the same holiday newsletter to everyone on your list, and
limit your social calendar to allow some down time. And remember, your fitness
routine is a priority, even when you don't think you have time. Exercise helps
you cope with stress while it burns calories and keeps muscles strong.
The 80/20 Rule
Once you gain control of your to-do list, the next (and probably the
biggest) hurdle is figuring out how to enjoy the bounty of food without
triggering a six-week eating frenzy.
I'm a big believer in striving for "social weight maintenance" over the holidays. That means
allowing some flexibility in your eating plan so that you can enjoy your
favorite holiday foods. Don't expect to be perfect around the holidays. If you
factor into your plan some extra food and drink, you are more likely to keep
your weight in check.
To maintain, not gain, during the holidays, follow the "80/20 rule":
80% of the time, you follow your healthy-eating plan to the letter, but 20% of
the time, you may indulge in small portions of those once-a-year favorites. And
100% of the time, do at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity.
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
|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|