A Holiday Eating Guide You Can Actually Use

The holidays are a time for family gatherings, friendly parties, and celebration. But, as most everyone knows, this time of year also brings temptation, (possible) weight gain, and an abundance of holiday eating advice. Wading through the diet tips and survival guides can be exhausting and sometimes even the most well-intentioned guides can be impractical. After seeing one too many pieces of bad advice over the years, I decided to rewrite the rules making them more attainable so you can survive your next holiday party.

Old Rule #1: Bring a bag of baby carrots with you to munch on during the party.
Revised: Do you really want to be that person, the one who ignores the host’s generous offerings to whip a damp baggie of carrots out of your purse? Unless you’re bringing a veggie platter as a host gift to share with the crowd (which is a great idea if you’re so inclined), then leave the veggies at home and instead, fill your cocktail plate with produce from the buffet to eat before reaching for other treats.

Old Rule #2: Wear tight fitting clothes to the holiday party, preferably something with a belt.
Revised: Wear something you feel good about, not something that reminds you to avoid overeating. Not only is this strategy ineffective in most cases, it is probably uncomfortable. A better strategy? Just aim to fit into your holiday outfit next year and keep in mind that what you eat between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is just as important as what you eat between New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving.

Old Rule #3: Take only three bites of everything on your plate.
Revised: While it might seem like a good strategy to fill your plate with treats from the buffet while simultaneously telling yourself that you will only eat three bites of each, it most likely will not work. Having the food in front of you will only increase your temptation. Instead, take a look at the buffet table and choose three small items to indulge in throughout the evening. Only over-sized treats available? Then just choose two. You want to have a taste of your favorite foods without over-doing it.

Old Rule #4: Dab a napkin on top of the food, if it leaves an oil mark, leave it behind.
Revised: High fat, high sugar foods will not always “leave an oil mark” on a napkin. And, needless to say, you might look a little funny walking around the table pressing on every platter of food to check for oil — not to mention how upset you’ll make the host. Look with your eyes instead and choose foods made with vegetables or fruits and avoid those with a cream or cheese base. And remember, stick to the (rewritten) rule of threes above.

Old Rule #5: Eat less during the day prior to the party to “save” calories for later.
Revised: Just … no. Maintain your regular eating schedule throughout the holiday season. Eat a balanced breakfast every day and pack in the produce at each meal. That way, you don’t arrive to a party ravenous enough to eat everything in sight.

Old Rule #6: Drink multiple glasses of water prior to the party to fill you up and prevent overeating.
Revised: Yes, excessive amounts of water will give you a feeling of fullness, but drinking large amounts before arriving to the party will only leave you running to the restroom. Spread your water consumption throughout the party by alternating glasses of water with other low-calorie beverage options. Or, sip on seltzer or sparkling water with a twist of lime instead.

Remember, the holidays are a time to enjoy with friends and family. Make the most of it without going overboard at the buffet.