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Surviving Holiday Food! - Chef Phillip Dell

Surviving Holiday Food! - Chef Phillip Dell | | SOS Radio






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The Christmas season is upon us. Are you ready? Have you planned out what you will do to stay on track? By Chef Phillip Dell

Almost everyone I know is confronted with temptations all through the holiday season. Be it Christmas treats, work parties and potlucks or gifts from vendors or clients. We are all tempted to falter during the holidays.

I want to remind you that we are seeking the fruit of self-control here. 

Proverbs 25:28 says: "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control."

That’s where we’ve all come from. We’ve all lacked self-control in the past. And it is the goal that we are trying to train ourselves to during this transformation. We want to be temperate and moderate in all things.

Statistics have shown that an average American gains 8 pounds or more during the holidays. Will that be you this year? The standard calorie count on one person’s thanksgiving dinner plate is 3500, and that’s not counting the refills or any pre-meal snacking. Might I remind you here that an extra 3000 calories is the equivalent of one pound of weight gain?

Over the past four years since the beginning of my transformation I have been able to maintain or even lose weight during the holidays. I, for one, love Christmas - the baking, the parties, the chaos- all of it! As a chef, I am around food ALL DAY LONG! One of the classes that I teach is a whole day of holiday baking- specifically… cookies… when asked what my favorite dessert is, the answer is simple—COOKIES!! Homemade, of course. Even more so, I love the dough. So, as you might imagine, it takes a good bit of will power and prayer to keep me away from them. So just what do I do?

The first thing I do is stick to the plan. I never miss a meal. All my meals consist of a complete protein, vegetables and healthy fats. This way I know my body is getting what it needs first and foremost.

Second, I keep my indulgence to my week’s cheat. Since I love cookies so much, I bake all my favorites and keep sealed bins of them all. When it comes time to cheat, I take a few from each bin and go to the book store, grab a book, buy a cup of coffee and enjoy! The key here is that I remove myself from eating more of them. This is easily avoided because I leave the rest at home.

What do you do if you’re at a party or meeting?

You don’t have to deprive yourself, but you do have to make wise choices. The first thing I’ll tell you is to be prepared! Bring some of your food with you. You can still be sociable and stick to your diet. Drink a protein shake before you go. Studies have shown that by consuming protein before going out, you will feel satisfied and keep cravings at bay. Casein, or milk based products, are best for this.

I know what you’re thinking. “But I want what they are having!” Well, first, you likely ‘want’ that in an emotional sense. This is often caused by peer pressure. If you do give in to temptation, you will find that what may taste good going down will quickly be followed up by guilt and, depending on how far along you are in your transformation, the next day your body may be achy and have a run-down feeling, quickly reminding you that if you put regular gas in instead of premium that you will not run as efficiently.

If you are going to eat the ‘party food’, you can minimize the effects by making the best choices. For instance: 

·         Choose the veggie tray over chips and dips—you may even want to have the dips with the vegetables as a healthier medium

·         Choose pumpkin pie over pecan pie

·         Choose the things that contain fruit, the more natural the better. Strawberries over jelly filled cookies, for example.

·         Choose fruity desserts over cream desserts

·         Choose the entrée that isn’t laden with sauce

·         If you feel that a sauce is a must, have it on the side and dip your fork in it before picking up your bite. This will give you the taste without adding huge amounts of fat or calories.

·         When filling your plate, pay attention as you make your choices that vegetables are what’s in the majority.

What about cooking holiday foods?

Transform them! As I do every week on this program, transform what you want to eat so you can still feel satisfied. There are ways to transform even your baked goodies. Even if the recipe still contains small amounts of the original ingredient, such as butter or sugar, by eliminating a portion of it and substituting something healthier, you have made your goodies better for you than they were before. Are they good for you? Not exactly, but they are better than the full fat or sugar version that you were eating before.



1.       Never attend a party hungry

2.       Plan ahead

3.       Stick to your diet all week and all day leading up to the party, and if you do decide to indulge, make sure your next meal is right back on track. If you can’t eat your next planned meal, then you know you overindulged and ate too much.

4.       Do not starve yourself leading up to a party. If you do, your body can and will store everything you consume as fat.

5.       Stick to healthier options like veggie trays and proteins

6.       Drink a lot of water

7.       Work out before you go as this will boost your metabolism and prime your body for the onslaught of carbs

8.       Bring your own transformed dish to potlucks- don’t tell anyone it has been transformed, they likely will not be able to tell the difference anyhow, and it will give you at least one safe choice.

9.       Be cautious of the drinks


Chef Phillip Dell is proprietor of Sin City Chefs and he was a champion on Season 15 of "Chopped" on Food Network. He's worked at Wynn Las Vegas, Grand Traverse Resort, Benedicts in Las Vegas & many other restaurants. Connect with Phillip on


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