Turkey with cranberry sauce. Holiday cookies. Wine. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Appetizers galore! This is the time of year where decadent food is everywhere. When you’re surrounded by treats and temptations, it can be difficult to make healthy choices.
Here are 8 simple tips to help you indulge without going overboard this holiday season:
- Enjoy your “must-have” foods. This is probably the most important tip as it is easy to go overboard in all the goodies that are available this time of year. Be picky about what treats you really enjoy and want in your food environment. Promise yourself that you will have a few favourites over the holidays, and set aside those that you don’t particularly want. Why not try to skip the bread basket, or the treats that are widely available year round? Pick what works best for you.
- Don’t forget to pre-eat for that 7pm dinner. We all know what a bad idea it is to go grocery shopping hungry, so why is your next holiday meal any different? The fact is, when we’re hungry we make impulse food decisions. Whether or not you’d normally eat those appetizers or pick up that extra cocktail, you will. Why? Because they are there and you’ll be irrationally hungry. My keys to success are eating a normal sized breakfast and lunch, and having a handful of almonds, baby carrots or small yogurt on my way out the door to the party. That way when I arrive, I already have a little bit of food in my stomach and I can focus more on the foods I really want.
- Try a smaller plate at your next buffet or potluck. You’ll actually eat less. Alternatively, if it’s cocktail hour, try holding your beverage and your cellphone or a napkin. With both hands full it’s more difficult to pick up appetizers. This will help slow you down and allow you to be more aware of the appetizers you do pick.
- Get moving and make a holiday season resolution. In Winnipeg, it can be easy to use the cold as an excuse not to venture outside. Try making a holiday season resolution instead. Commit to just one thing that you can do during this busy time to feel your best each day. Some ideas to try: go for a walk after dinner or perhaps build a snowman with your kids. Better yet, check out the City of Winnipeg’s Priceless Fun Guide which lists all sorts of interesting free events and activities around the city (located at: http://winnipeg.ca/cms/recreation/leisureguide.stm). Not possible? Maybe target a goal of a good night’s sleep instead.
- Start with the fruit and veggies. Fibre helps fill you up, and slows you down. Scan the food or menu first and start with the veggies. The first food we put on our plate is often the one with the largest portion size.
- Don’t forget about the drinks. A beer, eggnog or even that last minute Frappuccino at the mall are delicious, but be wary – their calories add up quickly. That eggnog? 200-330 calories depending on the brand. My husband’s favorite craft beer? Around 200 calories per serving. That Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino (made with 2 percent milk, whipped cream) = 410 calories. It can add up quickly. Instead, try alternating alcoholic drinks with water, or try lower-calorie/sugar beverage mixes (club soda and lime, water with lemon, diet pop or even a lower calorie juice mix like Trop50).
- Plan for your potluck with your co-workers or family. Try some of these healthier recipes to share with the group: Fruit Kebabs with Maple Cinnamon Yogurt Dip; Crowd-Pleasing Turkey Chili; Butternut Squash, Spinach and Feta Frittata; and Toffee Bars. All of these recipes can be found on www.cookspiration.com a website and smartphone app developed by Dietitians of Canada.
- Share the gift of health. Before you default to wine and chocolates this year as many of us do, here are some other ideas for stocking stuffers and hostess gifts: Flavoured teas, soaps, candles, lotions, nuts (nutcracker optional), spice blends in a decorative packages, or a fruit bouquet. Better yet, why not try a gift that involves creating a memory together like a trip to a museum, event or movie?
Most importantly – it’s the holidays. You may be so busy buying presents and entertaining guests, but don’t you forget to take the time to just relax. Be kind to yourself, especially about your food choices and enjoy quality time with friends and family.