Holiday Eating Survival Tips from Dietitians of Canada
As the holiday season gets underway, calendars fill up quikcly with all sorts of fun events, seasonal get-togethers and food! With some thoughtful planning, holiday treats can be part of healthy eating. Dietitians of Canada has the following tips to help you and your family make healthful food and beverage choices as a guest or host.
- Visualize what you might have to eat or drink before attending a holiday event. Mentally make a “game plan” of the ideal amounts and kinds of food and beverages you’ll have, and you will find it easier to pace yourself and your choices at the party. While it may sound a bit unusual, this mental preparation will give you an edge and will help you control your choices. Athletes often use it to achieve their goals; so can you.
- Maintain your weight throughout the holidays by being careful about the kinds and amounts of food and drinks you consume. Have breakfast and several small meals throughout the day so you are not tempted to overeat later in the day. Limit the number of appetizers you eat, especially if you are planning to have a full meal later. If you are having a buffet, choose the smaller size plate, survey the choices before you start filling your plate and take only what you need to feel satisfied.
- Let the holiday spirit move you! Make a specific plan to get regular exercise during the holidays - strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. Regular exercise not only will give you more energy to cope with the stress of the holiday bustle, but it can also help to compensate for some of your food over-indulgence! No time to get to the gym? How about walking to the grocery store when you only have a few items to pick up, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or in your apartment? Carry your groceries as a substitute for lifting weights. Every bit of physical activity you can sneak in counts. If you can’t get out of the house, do indoor exercise while watching your favorite TV show or chatting on the phone - squats, stretches, legwork, sit-ups, push-ups, treadmill…. you get the picture.
- Keep a stock of ‘healthy, lower calorie’ snacks in the fridge. These items can double as mini-meals to keep you energized during your busy days. Choose fruit, vegetables, vegetable soups, low fat yogurt, skim milk, fat-free sour cream, light cream cheese, hummus, whole grain crackers and breads, cereals, lean deli chicken, turkey or roast beef, nuts and seeds and water. Remember the 80/20 rule - by eating nutritious higher fibre, lower fat foods most days, you can indulge in a few special occasions without overturning your healthy eating plans.
- If you are the host, serve plenty of festively coloured vegetables and fruit to your guests. For fun and flavour, dress up your vegetables and salads with red and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, red pimentos or cranberries. Serve vinaigrette dressings on the side, instead of creamy dressings. For dessert, serve up a big platter of sliced red and green apples, kiwi fruit, red and green grapes, and pomegranates next to a smaller plate of baked goodies. Create an edible centre piece with a bowl of mandarin oranges or tangerines.
- Alcoholic drinks of any kind are loaded with calories and can dehydrate you. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Plan to have water or soda water with a slice of lemon or lime between each drink to pace your intake. If you are the host, have one or more non-alcoholic option, such as sparkling water with lemon, cranberry juice spritzers, ‘virgin’ Caesars, non-alcoholic beers, and lower fat eggnog.
The holidays are a time for socializing with friends and family - focus on the occasion, not on the over-abundance of food. With some wise planning for an active holiday and moderation in your food choices, when it comes time to write those New Year’s resolutions, “losing weight” won’t be among them. Dietitians of Canada cookbooks - Cook Great Food and Great Food Fast- are ideal gifts for everyday chefs who enjoy the pleasures of healthy eating. Available in book stores and at www.dietitians.ca
Dietitians of Canada represents over 5500 dietitians across Canada. DC is committed to promoting the health and well-being of consumers through food and nutrition. For further information on nutrition and healthy eating, visit Dietitians of Canada award-winning website at www.dietitians.ca. Register to receive regular healthy eating messages from dietitians - food and nutrition information you can trust at www.dietitians.ca/eatwell