I can already smell and taste all the delicious foods that will be prepared, served and enjoyed in the coming weeks. Bûche de Noël, meatloaf, pasta, fish, 3 different salads, tourtiere, turkey and all its fixings,… my mouth is salivating.
The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, with food often being the center of attention. Not to mention that it’s cold outside, making it difficult to get out and be active. Sticking to your healthy eating plans can be challenging during the holidays, but it’s not impossible! So here are 6 tips to help you enjoy your favourite foods while saving some room for healthy eating.
Tip 1: Eat regularly.
- We may think that we will cut calories this way, but skipping meals can lead to overeating. If you arrive at a party starving, you are more likely to overindulge by eating less healthy foods and eating more of it.
- So have a healthy snack at home like fruit and nuts or veggies and hummus before heading out to a holiday party.
Tip 2: Fill your plate with colourful foods.
- Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables to fill you up. The fiber in these foods makes you feel fuller, longer.
- Hosting a meal or bringing a dish? Make sure to offer healthy alternatives such as salads, butternut squash soup, roasted Brussels sprouts, homemade spinach dip or a bean salad (stay tuned for a healthy holiday menu!).
Tip 3: Enjoy your favourite holiday foods.
- It’s okay to enjoy special holiday foods, it only happens once a year! So eat that shortbread cookie, latke, turkey with stuffing, and mashed potatoes, but make sure to keep your portions in check by using smaller plates.
- Instead of eating a bit of everything, choose the foods you really want, and keep the portions small.
- Pass on high-calories foods that you can get any time, like chips and chocolate. Instead, have the desserts or meal you only get this time of year.
- Start with small portions and eat slowly. Your brain needs 20 minutes to realize you’re full. Take a break before reaching for seconds.
Tip 4: Watch your drinks.
- Calories from drinks can add up quickly, whether it’s an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.
- Drink slowly. If you choose to drink alcohol, alternate alcoholic drinks with water, flavored water or tea.
- Eggnog drinker? Enjoy a small cup and think of it as dessert.
Tip 5: Socialize.
- Steer the conversation away from the food table so you’re less likely to nibble mindlessly – drunk uncle is full of interesting stories, talk to him!
- Don’t stand next to the buffet table or if you do, have your back facing the table. We are more likely to keep eating if food is in our sight – out of sight, out of mind.
- Scope out your options and make one trip to the buffet.
Tip 6: Be active.
- Balance out those extra holiday calories with some activity.
- Walk a little more at the mall, go for a walk after your meal, play in the snow or even offer to do the dishes (or come to my house to do the dishes…). Anything counts!
- Bundle up – Don’t let the cold weather stop you. Or try something new, like cross country skiing or snow shoeing.
The holiday season can be tricky and last for weeks, but with proper planning we can avoid the out of control eating habits. But even if you do gain a pound or two make sure to get back in control so it doesn’t start to creep up over the next few months.
Roberts, S. (2000) Holiday Weight Gain: Fact or Fiction? Nutrition Reviews, 378-379.
Wagner, D., Larson, J., & Wengreen, H. (2012). Weight and body composition change over a six-week holiday period. Eat Weight Disord Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity.