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How To Make Sure You Get Enough To Eat At Holiday Parties

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foodWell, the holidays are at last upon us, as “upon us” is a holiday’s favorite place to sprawl, and that means one thing: making sure that you get enough to eat at holiday parties. There’s nothing worse than waking up in January and realizing you’ve practiced careful moderation in the face of temptation, also watching that waistline, and cravings, and jeans that fit: food is everywhere. Here are a few tips to make sure you get your fair share of empty calories between Thanksgivukkah and New Kwanzaa Boxing Day.

Don’t fill up on water.Water is full of empty fluids. If you’re trying to keep yourself from over-imbibing on cocktails, try matching every alcoholic beverage you drink with a glass of nog. Any variety of nog will do, as long as it leaves a film on your glass. Remember: if the glass ain’t fogged, your drink’s not nog, as the elves sing right before they get you.

Avoid the crudités. They’re a pointless vehicle for dip. Think of all the other foods you could be smearing that dip on: french onion smeared over a pimiento olive; pâté on sausage rolls. Celery is for suckers.

Stay away from protein and fiber. You’ve got bigger fish to fry (is there fried fish at this party?). Look at that cheese log. What do you do with logs?Build things with them.

Remember the hidden calories in drinks.Look very carefully for them; they’re hidden. Who knows how many drinks it will take for you to find them.

Before you take a bite of anything, ask as yourself: could I sprinkle peanut M&Ms on this?

Skip meals so you’ll be extra hungry.Don’t go crazy. Skip half a meal, maybe. Just make sure you show up irrational and dizzy, so those first two glasses of wine really pack a wallop. If you’re drinking, be sure to wait a few hours before you start eating, otherwise the food in your stomach might soak up some of the alcohol.

Balance your indulgences. If you’ve got a slice of carrot cake in your left hand, put some mini hot dogs wrapped in those little crescent rolls in your right, so you don’t fall over from the weight of it, I guess.

Bring an apple with you wherever you go. This will protect you from witches.

Don’t go back for seconds. Eat off other people’s plates when they get up to go to the bathroom.

Bring your own vegetables.That way you can throw them away wherever you are, and they won’t stink up your trash can.

Cut servings in half before you eat. Fill the empty swath between your portion halves with gravy, then eat both halves. You could put some dip on that gravy, you know. Just because your food’s got gravy on it doesn’t mean you couldn’t use some dip.

Cranberry sauce is a waste of time. It’s just fancy jam. That’s all it is. You could eat that at home.

Portion control. Don’t let your portions boss you around, I guess. Eat them. You’re the boss; they’re just amounts of food.

Remember: pecan pie has the most calories of almost any holiday dessert, so start with that and work your way down.

Read more How To Make Sure You Get Enough To Eat At Holiday Parties at The Toast.

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3895 days ago
Good advice I've been following for many holiday seasons ;)
Somerville, Massachusetts
3896 days ago
Murphysboro, IL
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10 public comments
3892 days ago
For KK, who missed is first time 'round.
ATL again
3893 days ago
Anything not covered in gravy is a waste of time. Good thing gravy goes with everything. Also concur with skipping the fancy jam. Cranberry chutney on the other-hand is really good.
Somerville, MA
3895 days ago
Richmond, VA
3895 days ago
Holidays are coming...
Frankfurt, Germany
3896 days ago
"Don’t let your portions boss you around, I guess. Eat them. You’re the boss; they’re just amounts of food."
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
3896 days ago
"water is full of empty fluids". So true.
Baltimore, MD
3896 days ago
IT'S JUST FANCY JAM. The Toast knows what's up about holiday eating.
Portland, OR
3896 days ago
Definitely good advice for the coming holiday gluttony.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
3896 days ago
"Remember the hidden calories in drinks. Look very carefully for them; they’re hidden. Who knows how many drinks it will take for you to find them."
Madison, WI
3896 days ago
This will protect you from witches.

Why Don’t I Give Money to Poor People?

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Originally posted on The Billfold

“Hey, you want necklaces? I sell you necklaces!”

He’s dishevelled, but not more so than most people you see on the street here. He’s wearing a bright green soccer T-shirt, a team I’ve never heard of, and a goatee. He introduces himself as Paul.

This is Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I am backpacked, sunglassed, earbudded, on my way to the waterfall. The only way I could be more obviously a tourist is if I had a fanny pack and an “I ♥ Zim” T-shirt on.

“Thanks, but I’m not interested,” I say. I may have actually physically waved him away.

He walks with me for a few minutes, pushing necklaces, wooden giraffes, 50 billion Zimbabwe dollar notes into my chest. I repeat the same thing: Sorry, not interested. Sorry, no.

Everywhere it’s different but the same. In San Francisco it’s the guy who could visit his sick sister in Portland if he could just get 10 bucks for the bus fare. In Paris it’s children with their arms out. In Istanbul it’s amputees on a sheet of cardboard, literally begging.

And my answer is always the same: “Sorry.” I don’t know when I started saying this, when I stopped bothering to lie about being out of spare change, when I stopped thinking before I said it.

Right after Paul peels off, I take what I think is the turnoff to the falls. The path peters out, I turn around and when I get back to the road, Paul is there.

“Where are you trying to go?” he says.

“Just to the park entrance,” I say.

“Oh there’s a shortcut just up there to the right,” he says. “It’ll only take you five minutes. Make sure you make it to the gorge before dark. Spectacular, man, spectacular!”

I thank him, and realize that as he was talking I was thinking oh, he’s a person.

You’re not supposed to give beggars money. That’s the conventional wisdom, right? You don’t know what they’ll spend it on, you might be encouraging them to stay on the street, you’re not addressing any of the structural issues that got them where they are. I used to live in Copenhagen, and whenever I got panhandled (yes they have panhandlers in Denmark), I wanted to roll my eyes, like, all this free money in your country and you want mine?

Needless to say, that attitude is a lot harder to maintain in Zimbabwe. It’s even harder to maintain for me, considering I am here working for a human rights organization. How do I justify spending two weeks in Harare attending conferences, meeting NGOs, working on statements and recommendations to make this country less poor and then, the minute I’m on vacation, neglect to do the one thing I’m actually equipped, actually qualified to do: Give it some fucking money.

The sun is setting when I come out of the park, and Paul is at the exit, soliciting another tourist. He sees me and breaks off.

“How was the park, my friend?” he says.

“Good,” I say. “How’s business?”

“Not so good today,” he says, the full bouquet of necklaces still dangling from his hand. “Look, can you help me out, just with a dollar? I’m hungry.”

I feel like Paul has taken his mask off, he’s talking to me outside of his role as a street vendor, like we’ve both stepped out of character for a second and it’s just us, man to man. I give him two bucks. He thanks me profusely, leaves without asking for anything else.

Two hours later I see him again. This time I’m on a trail behind Victoria Falls’ fanciest hotel. I’ve just eaten a French croissant pudding that cost 7 times what I gave to Paul.

“My friend!” he says.

“Hi Paul,” I say, weirdly happy to see him. I’m travelling alone, and he’s the only person I’ve spoken to all day.

“Hey, do you have some dollars for me?” he says.

“I just gave you two,” I say,

“But I ate with those, man,” he says. “Can you give me some more for dinner?”

As much as I hate to admit it, this irks me. I already gave you money, dude, coming back for more just makes me feel like a mark—like this is a business model. If you don’t get tourist money with merch, get it with sympathy.

“Sorry,” I say.

Later, I wonder what outcome I was actually trying to protect myself against. Giving money to someone who is demonstrably worse off than me? Maybe Paul used that money to buy himself lunch, maybe he didn’t. What am I, USAID? Who cares what he spent it on. If those two dollars (or 10, or 20) magically disappeared from my back pocket, I never would have noticed. Why am I Jay Gatsby when it goes to making me better off, but Ebeneezer Scrooge if it does that for someone else? All that shit about enabling, it’s just an excuse for me to keep what I feel is mine.

In development circles, everyone is all excited about this “just give money” thing. The idea is: Poor people know better what to do with their money than we do, so if you want to help, don’t tie a donation to some entrepreneurship scheme, behavior modification, Excel-sheeted output, just hand over some scrilla, no questions asked.

Apparently it worked in Uganda, another country I have visited to do development work in the daytime and say “sorry” on evenings and weekends. If this idea is real, maybe I should be refusing all the conferences and acquiescing to all the beggars.

I have no idea what I should do. When I travel to developing countries for work, should I set a daily amount that I can afford, say $20, and hand it out randomly? Should I start donating regularly to charities who do that? What is, as the MBAs say, ‘best practice’?

I am in Victoria Falls for two more days. I will probably run into Paul again. He will probably ask me for money, and I will probably give some to him. I might even give him enough to try that French croissant pudding.

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3968 days ago
Somerville, Massachusetts
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