These are the foods that seem to find you, even if you’re trying to hide from them, especially hors d’oeuvres — with those little party bites it may seem there’s a conspiracy at work to put you face-to-face with a tray of bacon-wrapped scallops. Once again, these are foods that seem to just appear, are powerfully tempting, can seem insignificant, but can add up quickly.
Technically, hors d’oeuvres are not necessarily associated with a meal, so they’re often circulated at parties or events where an actual meal isn’t included. In some ways this can be a good thing. If you keep reasonable track of what you’ve eaten from passing trays or long tables, you can potentially adjust your foods at a later meal to compensate.
In theory there’s nothing wrong with, and even some benefits to, eating more than three smaller meals in a day. But, the operable word is smaller. There can be a tendency in some circumstances to try and make a meal of hors d’oeuvres, and that can make keeping track of what you’ve eaten very difficult.
These finger foods can disappear in one bite, and large events can have many different varieties floating around. Plus, hors d’oeuvres aren’t necessarily healthy choices, and nutrition information may be hard to find. If you’re at a party or an event, have an hors d’oeuvre or two, preferably something without carbohydrates, and then have a reasonable dinner later.
Don’t try and make a dinner from finger foods unless you’re confident you have options that are healthy and let you keep reasonably accurate track of what you’ve eaten.
Appetizers and bread often appear before a meal and are intended to stimulate an appetite or to keep you busy while waiting for the food you ordered to be prepared. Most often the bread is standard, but appetizers are part of an order. Even if you don’t order an appetizer, somebody will almost surely want you to share his or hers.
Appetizers come in all kinds of forms, from downsized entrées, flatbreads, deep-fried anything, potato skins, or corn chips covered with meats and cheese to some reasonably healthy choices available at some establishments. Bread is usually served with butter, margarine, olive oil, or a special spread.
The story with appetizers and bread is the same — if you have planned ahead to include these foods in your advance meal plan, and chosen healthy options, then dig in. Unplanned food sitting in plain sight, however, makes healthy eating more difficult that it has to be. If possible, let the unplanned appetizers and bread be quickly passed and removed from the table.
Dessert is purely optional but can be one of the great pleasures of eating out. If you’ve planned in advance for dessert, good for you. Chances are, however, that restaurant desserts go for 500 calories or more and almost by definition include a sizable dose of carbohydrates. Sorbets, sherbets, or fresh fruit are your best options. For most other desserts, splitting them four ways may still leave you with 300 extra calories and 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrate.