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Holiday Hints to Chuck Out

by Saralee Perel

Must we be barraged every holiday season by those annually irritating experts who suggest we deny ourselves everything from one lousy cookie to a single piece of pie? Cooks who offer the finest of Cape Cod cuisine bear the brunt of inane dieting tips.

I’ll paraphrase advice I’ve read and then add my opinion.

  1. Fill up on carrots before going to a party. Bring some with you too.

That’s a great idea. When your host has painstakingly labored to make her specialty Cape Cod Quahogs, she’ll be thrilled when everyone grabs big fat carrots from their pockets or purses and gnaws on those instead.

  1. Guzzle 2 gallons of water before the party, then only drink water while you’re there.

Heck. Why don’t we just lug the host’s garden hose into the festive party room, turn it on and suck on it every time we’re offered a fried clam?

  1. Belts should be tightened 4 notches tighter than normal.

We want to feel miserably uncomfortable when we eat one steamer. Parties are more fun when we can’t breathe.

Books by Saralee Perel

Click on the book covers to link to purchase sites

Cracked Nuts

Raw Nerves

  1. A food pyramid is a nutritional chart. It is not a colossal tower of stacked meat. No food piling! Keep it to one layer.

This doesn’t make sense. It necessitates making over 10 trips to the buffet table.

  1. Registered dietitian, Kristin Kirkpatrick, writes in a Huffington Post article, "Never allow leftovers to enter your house. If you have a pushy host that insists you take home the rest of the crescent roll pastry Brie wheel, graciously take it but conveniently leave it in the bathroom on your way out.”

Oh, this is a beauty. When I e-mailed this tip to my friend Mike, he replied, “Seriously … who takes cheese into the bathroom?”

Plus, if everyone reads Kristin’s article and puts food in the bathroom, that room will look like a separate party for the gastronomically impaired.

  1. Stare at food for a full minute before eating. Then you won’t be eating subconsciously.

Have you ever stared at a Wellfleet oyster the second it’s shucked? Do you really want to see your food moving right before you eat it?

  1. Circle the buffet table and blot everything. If food leaves an oil smudge on absorbent cloth, put it back on the platter!

When I blotted my mother’s kishka (don’t ask) using her handmade lace napkins, she disinherited me.

  1. Do not scream, “Fire!” so you can be first at the buffet table. That would be stupid. But be sure you’re the last in line. Party dishes look too tempting when nobody’s swiped the good stuff, like the crab balls off the salad greens. By the time it’s your turn, the food will look dreary, limp and tasteless.

Well, isn’t that special.

The only things left will be Portobello mushrooms. (Their name is French for big old flat doorknobs.) The lobster they were stuffed with will be gone. We’ll be looking at gray floppy discs with gills.

And so, if you’re a skinny person who can eat anything, we all hate you. For the rest of us, maybe we can enjoy some holiday food without feeling guilty.

At my house, you’re welcome to stack, blot or pile your food. But would you mind not hiding it in the bathroom?

Photographs courtesy of Deb Flohr

Saralee Perel is an award-winning nationally syndicated columnist. Her new book, Cracked Nuts & Sentimental Journeys: Stories From a Life Out of Balance, is available in local bookstores.

It can also be ordered through Amazon, or directly from the publisher, as well as from Saralee for a personalized signed copy.

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is also available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon.

For more information, please visit her website: or e-mail her at