The Truth About Holiday Buffets


‘Tis the season when it’s all too easy to overeat — especially if you find yourself at a holiday buffet table laden with glorious food. However, it is possible for you to enjoy the party and pile your plate high without worry of gaining weight. Here’s how:

Watch your portions

Be wise about food choices and portions so that you don’t consume more calories than you normally would on any given day.  Women should stick to about 2,000 calories daily and for men it’s about 2,400. Go wild at a buffet and you may end up eating enough for two days — or two people! Play it safe and don’t arrive at a holiday party hungry. Eat a light snack beforehand, such as a salad or some whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese.

Start with a crunch!

Load your plate up on crudité and leafy salad greens first. Low in calories and high in fiber, a hefty serving of crunchy salad and raw veggies is a sure belly-filler that comes with relatively few calories compared to five pigs in a blanket which pack 410 calories and 30 grams of fat!

Warm up with soup

Soup is delicious and filling. Steer clear of creamy soups like lobster bisque or broccoli and cheddar that can have up to 300 calories and 20 grams of fat per cup. Instead, go with broth-based soups, such as minestrone or vegetable varieties that have little to no fat and less than 100 calories per cup.

Slim pickins

Shrimp cocktail, sashimi, and chicken skewers are mainstays at holiday parties and the good news is these are naturally low in fat and calories. One serving of shrimp cocktail with about six large shrimp and 3 tablespoons of seafood cocktail sauce weighs-in at just 109 calories, with 0.4 grams of fat and no saturated fat. Compare that to one cup of fried calamari, which has more than 300 calories and 14 grams of fat!   

Go light and lean for the main event

Keep this in mind next time you are checking out your entree choices: If you can’t tell whether it's chicken, fish, or vegetables under all that sauce, breading, cheese, or gravy, then skip it.  Case in point: Brown gravy has 100 calories and 4 grams of fat per ounce. Your best bet is to reach for lighter yet full-flavored options: choose turkey breast instead of honey ham or lean roast beef rather than duckling and save up to 7 grams of fat per serving.

Avoid Cocktail Calorie Bombs

Watch out for festive beverages such as eggnog, spiked hot cocoas, sugary fruit punches, and ciders that can pack one heck of a calorie wallop. There are plenty of party drinks that aren’t over-the-top with fat or calories. Choose a wine spritzer over a glass of eggnog and you’ll save more than 200 calories and eight grams of fat. Better yet, try my Kiwi Vanilla Cooler (half a kiwi, peeled and muddled, ice, and two ounces Voli Pear Vanilla Vodka) for a delicious holiday cocktail with a zing.

Indulge smart and avoid the dessert dilemma

We know opting for berries or sliced melon instead of apple pie sounds way too sensible. It’s holiday time after all, so go ahead and indulge on a really wonderful dessert. If you die for pie, pick pumpkin over pecan pie and save about 215 calories and 26g fat per slice. And if you are bent on having something truly decadent, enjoy yourself worry-free by abiding the “three-bite” rule.