Let’s face it – healthy eating and Christmas don’t always go hand in hand. We’re all busy in December going to Christmas parties, BBQs, catching up with friends and squeezing in as much family time as possible. More often than not, these soirees are full of tempting treats – Christmas pudding, custard, mince pies and pavlova… the list goes on and on. And that’s not to mention all of the extra alcohol! It’s easy to see how many of us have a coupla extra inches on the waistline by the end of December, and that’s why we’ve put together our top tips for surviving the holiday season!
Watch your portions
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean your healthy, balanced diet should take a break as well. Remember that Christmas isn’t just about Christmas ham and prawns! Fill at least half of your plate with veggies first (not just baked potatoes, either!) and then choose some lean protein like turkey breast or chicken without the skin if available to keep you feeling full. We suggest not stacking your food up in a big pile, but choosing small amounts of the foods you would like to eat the most. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to let you know that you’re full, so have a break after you’ve finished before going back for seconds.
Go easy on alcohol
Having a drink at a party can add to the fun of it, but there’s no need to overdo it! We recommended sticking to 1-2 standard drinks per occaison and ensure you have several alcohol free days per week. The holiday season is not an exception to this rule! Planning which events you’d like to have a glass of champagne or a sneaky cocktail at before the week starts will set you up for a week that isn’t over-indulgent. You could also try alternating each drink with a glass of water to pace yourself, which will help you to drink less and also lead to having better control over what you eat.
Take something to the party
Taking something to an event can ensure you’ll have at least 1 healthy option and reduce the number of calories you might eat otherwise. You could make a platter to nibble on at the start of the party with unsalted nuts, vegetable sticks, wholegrain crackers and dips that aren’t so creamy (like guacamole or tzatziki). If you’ve got a sweet tooth and would rather try to tackle sweet cravings, take your own dessert, like a Christmas tree made out of fruit.
It’s okay to treat yourself
As dietitians, we’re all about balance – and we give you permission to satisfy your sweet tooth every once in a while. Trust us, we know it can be hard to keep those cravings at bay! Pick your favourite dessert, enjoy it guilt free a couple of times in December and make sure you ask yourself if you really feel like eating it. Having a one off treat isn’t going to be detrimental to your health, but don’t feel pressured into dessert just because it’s offered. If you would rather have dessert more often (it is the holidays, after all!), try sharing with a friend or relative and have only 2-3 bites each time. Remember to practice mindful eating by chewing slowly and savouring each mouthful.
Keep up the physical activity
It’s important to stick to your exercise routine as much as possible throughout the holidays. Not only will it maintain your fitness, but also burn off any extra calories you might eat and keep you motivated. Exercise doesn’t just have to be your morning run or a Pilates class, either. Dancing is a fantastic way to burn energy, so hit the dance floor at the party to burn off some of the extra treats.
We hope these 5 tips will help you to keep on track over the holiday season and avoid gaining a few extra kilos. We’d love to hear any other tips you might have as well!
This article was written by Melissa Meier, who is an intern at The Biting Truth and is currently studying her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics.