Magazine cover image Subscribe Now to the magazine

10 Food Traditions Making You Fat

Is there any better way to bring people together than over some food? Unfortunately, some of our favorite traditions can mean bad news for our bellies. Find out how to enjoy all your favorite food festivities and still fight the fat!
10 Food Traditions Making You Fat

Often it seems like food is simultaneously your friend and your foe. You love the taste of your mother’s apple pie, but you hate what it does to your waistline. You love to enjoy a business meeting over a burger and beer, but you hate how you feel bloated and lethargic the next day. You just love to eat in general (I mean, who doesn’t?), but you don’t like stepping on the scale to find that you’ve gained five pounds this month. Life is all about striking a balance, but certain food traditions tip the scale (literally!). Read on to find out which food traditions are sabotaging your healthy body—and what to do about it. And then take a look at the 30 Reasons You’re Always Hungry for what might be frustrating you on a more daily basis.


Potluck Dinner

If you’re trying to keep your weight loss progress on track at a potluck dinner, well then, good luck. The star of potluck dinner is usually in the form of comfort food—think creamy, carbo-loaded, sodium-packed casseroles. And while it’s comforting in the moment, you won’t feel so comforted by the weight you gain that week. On rare occasions, you might find that one of your healthy buddies brings along a salad or two, but don’t bank on it.

If you’re hosting the potluck dinner, request your guests bring salads and apps and then take care of the rest yourself. It’s pretty hard to make a salad unhealthy, but guests often go overboard with entrees and desserts, so go ahead and put the potluck power back in your own hands! You can make a healthy dessert recipe or try one of these healthy chicken recipes as a main. And if you’re attending a potluck dinner, offer (and we mean, demand) that you bring a salad! That way, it won’t just be a stroke of luck that you have something healthy to eat; you’ll ensure it.


Boozy Brunch

“Sunday, bloody Sunday.” We’re going to have to disagree with U2 on this one. Unfortunately, boozy Sunday brunches—when the bloody mary mixes and mimosas are flowing—are weight loss nightmares. Not only will you be drinking more calories than you could ever imagine but you’re more apt to let your inhibitions go when your order your food. A recent study from the University of Liverpool found that consumption of alcohol stimulates your appetite and lowers your inhibitory control. Translation: alcohol makes you more likely to order that stack of pancakes instead of the garden omelet.

Sunday should be your “reset button” and be the day you get back on track for the week ahead. We actually think brunch can do some pretty amazing things for your body, if you let it. Instead of pancakes or buttery eggs benedict, go for a protein-packed omelet (hold the potatoes) or some fiber-filled oatmeal. And, of course, lose the booze!



You fill up a plate with chips and guac, some chicken wings, and whatever’s on those skewers that your neighbor brought along. And this is just your appetizer! For dinner, you can’t decide between a burger and a dog, so you go for both, washing them down with a beer. You finish off the party with some strawberry shortcake. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, we’re not grilling you on your eating habits. We’ve all been there! It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the festivity and food-fun of a BBQ, putting your weight loss goals on the backburner for the time being. But this kind of pig-out will set you back big time. Thankfully, there are ways to enjoy a good, all-American BBQ without packing on the pounds.

If there isn’t traditional salad, we suggest going for the fruit salad when taking on the appetizer table. This way you will fill up on natural, whole foods, allowing you to make smarter decisions when choosing a main course. When it’s time for the main event, try ditching the burger bun and wrap your burger in lettuce, or just eat it with a fork! That way, you can still get the same flavor without the extra carbs. Always go for light beer over the heavier kind to nix calories. If you’re throwing the summer bash of the century, be sure to check out our Barbecue Survival Guide to help you and all your guests stay fit and festive with healthy swaps for everything from ketchup to meat.



From Thanksgiving to Christmas, holidays are a dieter’s nightmare. Mom loves to make sure you’re full and happy and Cousin Joey is always there to refill your empty glass. We would never discourage you from gathering with family and friends over a meal, but we want to make sure you head home for the holidays equipped with the tools you need to keep your slimdown on track.

First thing is first: try bringing some healthy food as a housewarming present. Fresh fruit and veggies are a great way to bring your mother or in-laws a gift they’ll love without saying, “I’d rather not eat your unhealthy food.” These foods will give you something nutritious to munch on instead of those holiday cookies or the chips on the table. Let’s face it, despite your efforts to stay on track, you’re bound so have some slip ups when you’re in a festive mood. Hey, that’s totally normal! And it’s ok to indulge here and there, but make sure to fit in a workout every morning to counteract some of the calorie consumption. Anything counts. Simply going for a brisk walk every morning can keep that belly fat at bay!


Pizza Night

You’ve been cooking all week. You just need a little break! Ordering pizza for the family just seems easy as pie. But it’s also the easiest way to fall off your diet plan. We’re not just talking pizza—it’s a common American tradition to order Chipotle or Chinese food a few times a week. In fact, recent data shows that take-out expenses just surpassed grocery store expenses in the U.S. Unfortunately, recent data also shows that take-out makes you fat. An obesity study out of journal Health and Place discovered that those with more take-out options compared to grocery stores in their neighborhood are more likely to be obese. This makes sense; after all, restaurant food is often doused in sodium and drowned in unhealthy oils.

Instead of falling victim to the convenience of these fattening foods, next time you’re in the cooking mood, make some healthy, freezer-friendly meals that are super easy to pop in the oven for a fast, work-free meal on your typical pizza Friday or sushi Saturday!


Sporting Events

Everyone loves a good Superbowl party—but when you think about it, how much of the game did you really watch? And how much time did you spend eating wings and pigs-in-a-blanket and guzzling beers? Events like the Super Bowl, March Madness, outdoor tailgates, and more are the perfect excuse for whipping out our most calorie dense finger foods and our heaviest beers.

To beat the bulge at your next sporting event, we suggest one pretty simple thing: enjoy the party. Actually watch the game, chat with friends, throw a ball around. Do anything to get yourself away from the buffet table. Being the life of the party doesn’t have to mean hovering over the food and drinking your weight in beer! If you need a bite, go for the celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing on the side of the wing platter. To get a protein kick, grab a sandwich and ditch the bread to ditch the carbs.


Business Dinners

Business dinner, power lunch, happy hour. Whatever the occasion, chances are you’re mixing a little too much pleasure with business. These work-oriented meals are often not-so-work- oriented and very alcohol- and food-oriented. They serve as a way for people to relax, form connections, and take the stress of the work environment out of the picture, but also serve as a diet disaster. Chances are if you do your best work over the dinner table, your body has taken a toll. Thankfully, we have a few ideas for how to get your body back in business.

Try eating a quick meal before your meeting, preferably a salad or a high protein meal that will keep you feeling full through the whole meeting. If you don’t have time for a meal, order appetizers and bar snacks to keep your portion sizes in check. In terms of drinks, order a tequila on the rocks with a lime wedge or a glass of red wine instead of white. Tequila is naturally sweetened with agave so it won’t cause those blood sugar spikes that cause you to gain weight and red wine has antioxidants and weight loss enhancers that white wine can’t provide. Making these simple switches will have you losing weight again like it’s no one’s business.


Food Fairs

Maybe you’ve heard about New York’s Smorgasbord, or more likely you’ve read about the ridiculous fried foods out of the Texas State Fair. Whatever the event, people love to celebrate food together. The reality is, if you’re a food fair regular, you’re probably getting way more of your fair share of calories at these markets. Whether you’re doing it for the ‘ram or just for your taste buds, it’s time to get educated about what’s fair game for you weight loss plan.

First, if you’re in the mood for a foodie event, check online for a local farmer’s market. You’re more likely to find fresh, wholesome foods at a farmer’s market than you are at a town fair. Whatever the event, go out of your way to drink lots of water beforehand since it fills you up and has been proven to boost your metabolism. And be sure to fill up on a healthy breakfast that morning so you’re not ravenous when you arrive. The H20-breakfast duo will keep you level-headed when choosing fair foods that are fair play in your diet. Next, make sure to go with a group and split everything! This way you’ll still get the full experience, but keep your portion sizes in check. Finally, take pictures of all your food! Not only is this a fun way to document your experience, but researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that taking pictures of your food is an effective weight loss tool. For more crazy easy weight loss tips and tricks like this one, check out our 50 Best Weight Loss Tips.



You might be thinking, “Birthdays? But I only have one a year!” Sure, that’s true but what about your parents, your siblings, your coworkers, your husband, your kids, your BFF, your BFF’s BFF—you get the picture. Chances are you’re having more than one slice of birthday cake a year and chances are you’re having way more than just cake on any given birthday. Like many of the other belly-busting food traditions, birthdays are an issue because of the alcohol people tend to consume on these celebratory days. The issue is that you’re washing down sugar with more sugar. Cutting back on sugar is on our list of 42 Ways to Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat for a reason! Sugar has been linked directly to increased body fat.

To cut back on sugar, set one meal as your celebration meal. That way, you’re not having sugary treats and sugar-packed alcohol at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, take control of your portion size. Ask to cut the cake to cut the cals and order drinks that are low in sugar.

Eat This! Tip

Pop a bottle of pinot noir instead of champagne to get a hefty dose of resveratrol, an antioxidant that has been shown to blast fat.


Margarita Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wings Wednesday….

You get the picture. People come up with all sorts of ideas to justify their indulgences. While letting yourself indulge here and there is on our list of 30 Skinny Secrets from the World’s Sexiest Women, splurging every day of the week for “Thirsty Thursday” or “Sundae Sunday” is going to add up.

Instead of going out of your way to indulge, let these indulgence come to you. Wait for really special occasions to indulge in margarita Monday like, say, your best friends engagement. Or skip the tacos until Cinco de Mayo and save the wings for your husband’s birthday. Not only will it make these foods even more satisfying when you do finally indulge, but it will help you slim down in the long run!

Get 5 Free Gifts When You Subscribe!

Look, feel and live great while getting on the path to better health with the new Eat This, Not That! Magazine.