• By Clancy Harrison
  • In 2017
  • November 15, 2017

Navigating the Buffet the Healthy Way


By: Felicia Porrazza, MDA, RDN, LDNOwner & Registered Dietitian at PorrazzaNutrition

As we are nearing the holidays, instead of ditching your healthy eating habits until January, create a balanced strategy to avoid that dreaded weight gain. What does a balanced strategy look like? It starts with realistic expectations. Focus on weight maintenance and meal balance versus extreme weight-loss and restriction. Let’s face it, it would be unrealistic to say you would never indulge in a sweet or treat around the holidays.

While not all of the options at holiday parties may be the greatest, you can still navigate the buffet with your health in mind. Check out the tips below for some ways to keep yourself on track this holiday season.

  • Don’t pick. Grab a plate, walk away from the food, and sit down to enjoy your meal.  It’s easy to overeat when you are grazing at the buffet line.  
  • Fill up on good-for-you foods first like fiber-filled fruits and veggies.
  • Balance your plate. Make ¼ of your plate lean protein (turkey, chicken, fish, beans, tofu), ¼ whole grains/starch (brown rice, quinoa, potatoes with the skin on, etc) and ½ non-starchy veggies (broccoli, asparagus, salad, cauliflower, green beans, brussels sprouts, etc).
  • Practice portion control with smaller scoops and plates. You can always go back for more later.
  • Focus on friends/family conversations and not just the food.
  • Beware of liquid diet-blasters like apple cider, mixed drinks, pumpkin beers, etc. All of these holiday drinks tend to be loaded with empty calories and tons of sugar. Try sparkling water, flavored seltzers or simply alternate 1 glass of water between drinks.
  • Choose your favorite dessert to enjoy instead of picking at all of them. You can always plan to bring a healthier dessert too!

If you are not in charge of the cooking for the major holidays this year, bring a healthy side or dessert. You can still enjoy what is offered; however, at least you know you have one healthy option to fall back on. This could include simple items like veggies and hummus or fresh fruit with a light dip. In the end, remember that the holiday season is about being with family/friends, not just the tasty food.

Hope you found a tip in here that will help you as the holiday season gets rolling!

Felicia Porrazza, MDA, RDN, LDN is the owner of PorrazzaNutrition, a private practice in Philadelphia, PA. She conducts in-home nutrition counseling and cooking sessions and worksite wellness programming.