We’re just a few days into December and already I’ve been to four festive functions! Apart from feeling knackered from all the driving around and socialising, I’m also a little knackered from all the festive food consumption.
Cheese and crackers.
Cookies and cakes.
Champagne and punch.
If you know me, you know I’m not one to say no to any of the above…. but, I am one to say yes to moderation!
So here goes… my top ten healthy eating tips for the festive season:
1. Don’t skip meals! Saving your appetite for a big holiday party or feast? Don’t. Skipping meals during the day may result in overeating. It is especially important to have breakfast, as research shows that those who eat this important morning meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day.
2. Eat a protein breakfast! Speaking of breakfast…. Getting some protein in to your first meal of the day will help keep your blood sugar (and insulin) levels under control, meaning your body is in fat burning mode longer. It will also keep you feeling full for longer which will help avoid the snacks.
3. Avoid going hungry to parties! Eat something light before the party to reduce your chances of snacking on high calorie party food.
4. Go easy on the finger foods! If you’re at a party serving canapes, just watch how many you eat. I know they’re only little but they add up!
5. Eat your veggies first. This means before you enjoy the roasted turkey, glazed ham, savory stuffing and sweet potato pie, have a serving of the vegetable dish! It could also means grabbing the veggie sticks and hummus before you grab the cheese and crackers! This makes sure that you actually eat the vegetables (before getting full). And because vegetables tend to be high in nutrients and fiber—a winning combination for overall health.
6 . Pick a strategy to avoid overeating — and use it! Use a smaller plate; Fill your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts; Eat a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall; Eat slowly and savor every bite; Or, before you go back for seconds wait 10 minutes to see if you really still are hungry.
7. Offer to bring a dish! A big salad, a roast veggie dish with haloumi or feta, healthy chicken skewers to BBQ, a fruit salad, gluten-free biscuits or brownies… anything you know you’d feel comfortable eating.
8. Plan your drinks. Try setting yourself an alcohol limit before arriving at a party or social function. A good strategy is to alternate alcohol with water. To keep your sugar intake down, switch sugar sweetened drinks for diet options, or better still, water.
9. Eat what you love. Most of us find it extremely easy to eat something just because it’s there. Try to be picky at your holiday dinner. Focus on only eating the foods you absolutely love, and skip the foods you are “meh” about. Also, don’t eat something just because it’s a holiday food—if eggnog doesn’t excite you, skip it.
10. Lose the guilt. I know that healthy holiday eating can make people anxious, but try not to get too worked up. The festive season should be a time of celebration, joy and relaxation. If you do happen to eat more than you planned during this holiday season, don’t beat yourself up. More importantly, don’t let a slip become a fall. If you do go overboard, don’t get stuck in a food rut. Try to get back to your healthy eating habits as soon as you possibly can.