It’s the most wonderful time of the year for me and my family — time for parties, get-togethers and eating out with friends and family. Food and treats are abundant with appetizers and goodies on hand for impromptu drop-ins. And we’re also blessed to enjoy the feasts that our hosts prepare. The holiday season gives me an excuse to indulge. After all, it only comes once a year. But, in early January, I always used to feel a tad guilty. Over the years, I’ve learned that you don’t have to live with regret. If you follow a few simple tips, you can help maintain a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy the season.
1. Move it out of sight and out of mind
If you’re stocking up on treats and making freshly baked cookies to have on hand when guests pop over, tuck them away in a hard to reach cupboard or in the freezer. If that box of chocolates isn’t in plain view screaming, “I’m sweet. I’m here. Take me now!” you’ll be less likely to “accidentally” open them.
2. Fill up before heading out
If you’re going to a restaurant or dinner party, have a healthy snack before you leave and drink plenty of water to help fill you up. You won’t be as hungry when you arrive and you’ll be less tempted to load up on appetizers and other delectable delights. You can also forego appetizers in favour of the main meal, but just make sure your portions aren’t out-of-control.
3. Practise portion control
Okay, this one is tough, even if you’ve had a snack before leaving. You’re staring at a buffet table overflowing with appetizers, sides, main dishes and a bounty of homemade sweets. You’re thinking that you can’t offend your hosts by only taking a few carrots and celery sticks. Well, you don’t have to! I can still hear my grandmother saying, “Everything in moderation”. That’s what portion control is about. If you want to try a little bit of everything (emphasis on “little”), that’s fine, but refrain from going back for seconds. And if dessert is your kryptonite, enjoy smaller portions from the buffet, so you can save room for your uncle’s homemade ice cream. Remember to stop when you’re starting to feel full and to keep Canada’s Food Guide in mind.
4. Share the health
If you’re hosting, make sure you have some healthy options on hand like whole grain foods, raw nuts, lean proteins and vegetables. Some ideas for appetizers include: cheese and multigrain crackers or pita bread; vegetables serviced with hummus or yogurt; toasted whole grain crostini with fresh salsa; and grape tomatoes and low fat mozzarella on a small skewer. A fruit tray is a must to round off your feast.
5. Let the holiday spirit move you
If you have a gym membership or work out at home, the holidays aren’t the time to stop your routine. Make sure you continue exercising. If you don’t want to head out to the gym, squeeze in a brisk 40 minute walk every day. That way, you’re sneaking in exercise, enjoying some fresh air and helping to alleviate the stress of the hustle and bustle of the season.
6. Don’t let the other holiday spirits move you
Don’t fill up on high calorie beverages like pop, fruit juice and alcohol. Opt for water or reduced calorie drinks like flavoured sparkling water or water with a splash of lemon or lime. If you have a glass of wine or any alcoholic beverage, make sure you do so responsibly. Never drink and drive. And if you’re hosting, follow MADD’s tips for responsible hosts.
7. Keep a list and check it twice
If you worry that you’re going to lose track of your eating while going out for meals at other people’s homes or at restaurants, log everything that you eat in a journal or an app. There’s nothing like lists and numbers to help keep you accountable and on track. You can also strap on a pedometer, fitness tracker, or monitor your activity through a fitness app.
Here’s to a festive holiday season and to re-energizing, spending it in good company, and in good health!
What do you do to keep healthy during the holiday season? Are you diligent about watching your food intake and exercising, or are you more of an “eat now, regret it later” type? Any tips we missed? Let us know in the comments.