Ah, the holidays. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, plum pudding, shortbread cookies, pie … and that’s just the main feast. I also love the parties with yummy hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails, the office Christmas pot-luck and those endless lunches catching up with old friends during the holidays. But when it’s all over, my bathroom scale sometimes makes me do a double take, and my favourite clothes magically seem to have shrunk down a size.
I think it’s important to keep up holiday traditions and connect with family and friends over a nice meal or seasonal treats, but these days, I try to remember that it is possible to indulge in a few festive treats without totally losing control. It’s all about balance. There is no reason to deprive me; good food is often the focus of important moments with family and friends, and it is a good way to put some joy into those dark days of early winter. But it’s also important to make sure the feasting isn’t immediately followed by a feeling of self-loathing and guilt because of overindulgence, along with the anxiety of anticipating how hard it is going to be to fight my way back to normal again. It’s better – and not impossible – to avoid that feeling, without taking the enjoyment out of the season.
Here are a few tips for taking in the holiday festivities without taking in too many calories. For more information about a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, please visit our page on Physical Health & Diet.
- Don’t eat everything! Be choosy and eat only the foods you love. It is possible to taste without finishing every bite and still feel satisfied.
- For Christmas dinner, use cooking methods such as roasting, baking or poaching that require little or no added fat.
- Know when to put the fork down. You spent hours preparing Christmas dinner, and it tasted great, but do you really need a second helping? Be honest: are you still hungry? Save it for another day, freeze it, or if it’s not your home, walk away. You’ll feel better in the long run if you refrain from overstuffing yourself.
- Be selective about hors-d’oeuvres. Most pre-dinner snacks contain saturated fats and sugars. Why not reach for the veggies instead? As for the chips and pretzels – you can eat those anytime. Save the calories for holiday favourites and treats!
- There may be lots to eat, but it is it balanced? Remember to get in your five food groups each day (fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat/fish/poultry, bread/cereals). They work together, with each group helping to digest the others. Chocolate and eggnog might fill you up but, alone, they do not constitute a balanced diet.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach. It increases your appetite, and if you’re going to have more than one drink, you will become lightheaded a lot faster. By the way, never drive if you’re drinking. Ever.
- Speaking of drinking, it can deplete your body of vitamin B, so take a supplement during the holidays, or eat vitamin B rich foods like meat, rice, oats and green vegetables.
- Balance out those extra holiday calories with some exercise, even if it’s just a walk in the park on a snowy day. You’ll feel better.
Living well is all about doing everything in moderation, which will leave you with a stronger immune system and ultimately more energy to enjoy the things that matter in life.