This time of year can be very emotional, and we all often fall victim to a little Stress Eating. Well, to help us out, I thought I’d go over a few Holiday Snacking Guidelines. That’s right — these are the regulations that apply during this magical time of year, which help us navigate from October clear until Mardi Gras.
Here is a list to help clarify what factors determine whether your food is a meal or not. If you meet the following criteria, your food is NOT a meal. I repeat, your food is NOT. A. MEAL.
1. If you’re standing
We will inevitably be attending several parties and other social events sure to bring on stress. It’s imperative that you remember, then, that if you are in a physically upright position, you may as well have never ingested that cheese dip. It simply does not count as a meal. You may be dancing dangerously around the “snacking,” but you definitely have NOT “eaten.”
2. If the eating tools are smaller than usual
Are you using small paper plates? Maybe even a smaller spoon to scoop up that remaining 7-layer dip? Worried that you’ve transitioned from snacking to eating? No worries. Still not eating. Yes, I know that you’ve filled at least two of those small plates with deviled eggs and hot crab dip. Yes, I know that two of those small plates is roughly equivalent to one larger plate, but it isn’t on a larger plate, is it? You’re welcome.
3. If you eat quickly
Did you pop a quick Oreo ball from the tray before your family even said grace? Or perhaps you miraculously managed to sneak a slice of ham and inhaled it while Granny was hugging the prodigal cousin. Either way, you’re covered. Not a meal. However, you have just moved from snacking to “Tasting,” which can be new and confusing territory. Unlike Snacking, which usually limits itself to designated appetizers, Tasting can span the entire spectrum of flavors: sweet can come before savory, tart before umami. Those who are not careful in this zone could end up eating a meal. Tread carefully.
4. If no one saw you
This one piggy-backs from the rule before for obvious reasons — the two usually go hand in hand, like how you’re about to say grace while pretending you don’t have a mouthful of Fritos that you can’t crunch without being found out. Every parent out there should understand perfectly how this rule applies. It’s one of the few rules on the list that transcends the holiday season. There’s not a mom out there who hasn’t hidden from her kids to shovel some snack (in my case usually stolen from one of them) into her mouth and then tried to manipulate her voice to sound as though she were innocent and empty-mouthed. “MOOOOM! MOOOMMMMM!” (Cut to our Damsel in Distress, panic-stricken as she coughs a few crumbs of Cheez-Its and quickly shoves the evidence into her pocket) *COUGH!* “What, buddy?”
Bottom line: if no one saw you eat it, it wasn’t part of the meal.
5. If the food stands alone
Like cheese, if your food stood alone as the proud, independent little smokie that don’t need no man, it wasn’t a meal. It wasn’t even part of a meal. You didn’t need a plate. You didn’t need a utensil. You never held more than one at a single time. You were walking and talking. You’ve officially met all the criteria of an Expert Snacker. You’ve learned well, Grasshopper. Ooh, speaking of “grasshopper,” lemme go hit up that dessert table!
I hope this has cleared up whatever confusion remained around the holiday eating. Keep in mind there are other rules that stretch beyond these months (i.e. triangle sandwiches, fries at the bottom of the bag, cheese that you shredded that needs to be cleaned up, etc…)