Personal Finance

"Maintain, Don't Gain" Tip No. 2: Bring Something Great (but Healthy)

In this video from Motley Fool Answers , Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp welcome Motley Fool Chief Wellness Officer Sam Whiteside to the show, as she offers her best advice on how to make it through the holiday season without adding to your waistline.

Her second tip regards those wonderful holiday potluck meals. But at this time of year, even most vegetable dishes stop being healthy (how many sticks of butter?). So when you contribute to the feast, choose your dish wisely.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Alison Southwick: I'm going to eat all the carbs.

Robert Brokamp: And the dairy. Cheese everyone. Cheese!

[Door closes]

Southwick: So sometimes going to parties, there's a lot of food. No, always there's food. We're Americans. Of course, at every party there is food and it's not always the healthiest.

Whiteside: Yeah. And funny that you mentioned cheese. Most of the vegetables that you will likely see at holiday parties will be covered in cheese or...

Southwick: Ooh, fondue!

Whiteside: Right, fondue!

Southwick: Cannonball!

Whiteside: ... are going to be covered in things you might not typically cover vegetables with.

Brokamp: Eggnog, for example?

Whiteside: Eggnog, yes. Dipped in asparagus.

Southwick: Ooh!

Whiteside: That sounds amazing. And so I usually instruct Fools or clients to not only make sure you prepare for these parties, [but to] bring a health dish; specifically if it's a potluck get-together. Be the change in the world by bringing a healthy dish to an unhealthy party.

Brokamp: You'll be so popular, too.

Southwick: Well!

Whiteside: And don't just bring a crudités plate or a vegetable tray that you picked up at your local grocery store. Make it fun. I usually do a sweet potato dish that's diced sweet potatoes, red potatoes, and purple potatoes drizzled with olive oil and a little bit of pesto. Stick it in the oven. Pull it right out five minutes before and top it with goat cheese. Not exactly the healthiest option you could ever eat in your entire life, but it's definitely one of the healthier options you might be able to bring to a holiday party.

Southwick: You know what blew my mind when I had it? And we had it here at the Fool and we had a nutritionist come. And it was cauliflower to be made like mashed potatoes.

Brokamp: I have heard of this, but I never tried it.

Southwick: [Whispers] It was amazing.

Brokamp: Really?

Southwick: It was just cauliflower, salt, and like olive oil.

Whiteside: It's hard, sometimes, to tell the difference between a really good cauliflower mash and regular mashed potatoes.

Brokamp: Wow!

Whiteside: So a good resource that I use a lot is a website called On that website you can easily find all kinds of fitness and nutrition tips and you can also search for recipes that are low in sugar, or heart-healthy recipes, or that might be more diabetic friendly. Or with a specific vegetable. That website I definitely recommend for anyone looking for a healthy option.

Southwick: I would also recommend making the recipe at least once before you take it to the party.

Whiteside: That, too ...

Southwick: Because I have made that mistake so many times where I just show up with this casserole dish and I'm like, "I'm sorry." I hand it over and then I walk away.

Whiteside: It looks bad, but it might taste good.

Brokamp: So let's say someone doesn't want to gain over the holidays, they go to a party, and they overindulge. Is it reasonable to compensate the next day by basically fasting or just eating vegetables? Can you counteract what you do by going the extreme other way on the next day or for the following week?

Whiteside: That's a great question. I'm never really a great proponent of fasting. Your body is a machine. You need to feed it for it to perform, and so I definitely do not recommend fasting. Increasing your vegetable count during the holidays is always a good idea.

And it's funny that you mentioned that. The Washington Post actually came out with a piece today that says "11 strategies for getting through the holidays without weight gain," and one of those strategies was to increase your vegetables during this time. So I would recommend that. I would definitely not recommend fasting.

Southwick: You also recommended in the past eating before you go to a party.

Whiteside: Absolutely.

Southwick: So there you go. Get your vegetables in then, Bro ...

Brokamp: OK.

Southwick: ... so you can pound all the eggnog you want.

Brokamp: And my asparagus-nog.

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