Top 5 Ways to Save Calories at a Holiday Potluck

The holidays are possibly the worst time to be a dieter, or at least try to maintain your current weight. With all the awesome pot-luck goodness going around, sometimes a free lunch is simply hard to resist. Here are a few simple ways to keep from packing on too many pounds through the new year.

5. Drink water. Drink a glass of water before you go to your holiday party. It's simple: If there is less room for the food, you will feel fuller faster.

4. Veggies first. As a general rule, veggies tend to be lower-calorie, even if prepared in a not-so-good-for-you way, than meats or other sides. Veggies are nutrient-packed and have a lower calorie density, so you can gorge yourself without feeling guilty. For a good guideline, just make sure your plate is at least a quarter to a half vegetables. If you are really wanting to control yourself, just skip the meat altogether.

3. Make one plate. It's really easy to add on calories by getting just a little more macaroni and cheese. Keep it simple -- taking only one plate of food will help control portions and your waistline.

2. Skip the sweets. Most Christmas/New Year's buffets at my work alone have about five desserts. Although it might be tempting to try everything, you can save a lot of calories by skipping the sweets altogether. If you absolutely have to have something, just pick one dessert or a half-piece of two.

1. The 20-minute rule. If, after all your careful planning and self control, you are still hungry, hang in there. According to many healthcare professionals (including those at WebMD) it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that it is full.

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Becky Means