11 worst things to eat at a holiday buffet

XmasBuffetHoliday party season — the dieter’s nightmare — is in full swing for the next 2+ weeks.  If you’re trying to keep a lid on your calorie intake, what should you do?  Avoid overload by avoiding certain food and drink categories altogether.  This list isn’t so much about foods that are unhealthy.  It’s based more on common sense with a dose of self-respect.  Why eat things you can eat anytime?  Or that just aren’t special?

The best Rule of Thumb for holiday parties: try the foods that are special and unusual, or only served at the holidays.  Save calories by avoid these:

  1. Holiday candies: For some reason, people think those brightly colored hard candies sold in giant bags are for eating.  They’re better left to gingerbread house decorating.  Treacly sweet and basically tasteless.  Christmas-colored candy corn, M&Ms and the like are also best avoided.  You can eat that stuff any day of the year.  Why waste calories on them at a party?
  2. Same-old Same-old orange cheese: Busy people may stock their buffet with cheese trays from the grocery store, featuring the same old cheddar cheese you can buy in the dairy case.  Unless you’re starving and there’s nothing else to eat, don’t mindlessly pick at cheese cubes.  Cheese is high calorie and low water content, so very easy to overeat.
  3. Cold cuts: As with the cheese trays, nondescript cold cut trays are part of many buffets.  Again, unless there aren’t any other foods to choose from, you can eat sliced deli ham or turkey anytime.
  4. Eggnog: It is only served at the holidays, so if you like eggnog, have a small portion once or twice.  One-half cup has about 100 calories, so this isn’t something to guzzle as your drink of choice at parties or meals.
  5. Low fat whipped topping: yuck.  Other processed low-fat food-like things like low fat cheese, low fat mayo or margarine make this list.
  6. Nuts: I’m not suggesting nuts are a bad food.  Just that you can eat them any time, so don’t fill up on a high calorie food that’s easy to overeat.  Unless you’re a vegan and there are no other foods you can choose.
  7. Chips: High calorie and easy to overeat.  You can eat them anytime, so why squander your calorie allowance?  The bigger question is, why ever squander your calorie allowance on chips?
  8. Crackers: easy to overeat and as with many other foods on this list, you can eat them any day of the year.  Unless you find really delicious whole grain crackers, take a pass.  And even then, portion control is essential.
  9. Excess alcohol: always a bad idea, but at holiday buffets has the added effect of lowering your inhibitions, making it more likely you throw calorie caution to the winds.  Plus alcohol is also high calorie.
  10. High fat dips: even if you stick to raw veggies, you can bust the calorie bank with mayonnaise, avocado, cheese or oil-based dips.  If in doubt, pass on the dips.
  11. Packaged grocery store cookies: yawn.  Unless the host or caterer has prepared special cookies or desserts for the holiday season (or purchased them at a special bakery), take a pass on stuff you can eat any day of the year.

Hopefully the parties you attend will offer plenty of specially prepared foods, gourmet or not, and you can sample small portions of delicious and interesting treats without worrying about calories.

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