Friday, August 29, 2008

Holiday Food Challenges

Ah yes, the Labor Day holiday weekend. A time to spend with friends and family having fun and food, the really good homemade kind, the kind you can't count when it comes to calories because you have no earthly idea what, or how much of what, Aunt Sue put in her potato salad or Cousin Larry put in his barbecue sauce. And then there is always the 'secret batter' that Grandma Flo uses on her renowned fried chicken that everybody raves about but nobody knows the recipe for because she's never told it! Believe me, I know and understand the dilemma.

At the same time, it's not going to do you or anybody else any good if you sit there having celery sticks and watching wistfully as the rest of the family chows down on all that homemade goodness. So what should the strategy be? Depending on the spread, that is what everybody brought, there are some things you can do, some choices you might be able to make that could help lighten up things just a bit. If the choice of sides falls along the traditional picnic fare of potato salad, cole slaw, and baked beans, know that typically all three run about the same amount calorie-wise, anywhere from 150 to 180 for a 1/2 cup serving. All three can also be very sweet, so if you're watching your sugars, be aware of that. If there is fried chicken, you can lighten the calories considerably by pulling off the skin and just eating the meat. I know, that's where that great crispy crust is, but that's also what carries the most in calories. And remember dark meat chicken has more calories than white. Try to select leaner meats and at least smaller portions of items if everything looks fairly rich. Try not to go crazy with the 'extras' that is: rolls, butter, thick sauces or gravies. And if you can't pass the dessert table without drooling, try to have a very small piece of something really good. The idea is to enjoy without going overboard.

This really is the beginning of the Fall party season challenge. Before you know it, we'll be preparing for Halloween, which has become a party event as much for adults these days, as children. And Halloween is, of course, followed closely by Thanksgiving and then Christmas, not to mention New Year's Eve parties a week later. All those gatherings mean all that food. But what really matters is being with those you love, and not because they brought great brownies! So have a wonderful holiday weekend, continue writing down your daily food intake along with the calories you can count, and know that although this weekend might be a real challenge for you, ultimately you have the power to make better choices. Try to start now. Be diligent. It's up to you.

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