10 eating tips for surviving the holidays

Reh-Fit dietician offers a strategy to keep you in shape

By Tenille Sonnichsen

The holiday season is approaching, bringing plenty of opportunities for socializing, eating, and drinking. Even some of the most disciplined people struggle with temptation during this time.

To help maintain healthy eating and to survive seasonal parties, a strategy is needed. Having a plan in place will help you handle those temptations.

Eat foods you love
Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite foods but in sensible portions, and remember that holidays are a time to delight in the traditions of the season and enjoy the company of family and friends.

Here’s the action plan:

  • Always eat normally on the day of a party. People who skip meals to save up calories for a gathering tend to overeat. Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint. Start with a nourishing breakfast, have a light lunch, then a small snack (salad, fruit and yogurt, veggies and low calorie dip or hummus) shortly before the event.
  • Don’t go to a party hungry. Watch your portion sizes; review Canada Food Guide serving sizes so you will make wise choices. Remember the plate rule: one-half of your plate vegetables, one-quarter of your plate meat/alternatives, and one-quarter of your plate starch.

Watch the nuts and sauces

  • Load up your plate up with veggies first, then your meat/alternative, and finally your starch. Remember that items with nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravies, butters and whipped cream will be higher in calories. Watch out for cream dressings, sauces, and butter when picking out vegetables.

Heavy on calories

  • Skip the appetizers. Appetizers are typically very high in calories. If you need a little nibble before the meal, go for the veggies, fruit, salsa or a small handful of plain nuts.
  • At the dessert table, start with the lowest calorie dessert first (fruit) and move up from there.
  • Be a food snob. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. Scan the buffet for foods you truly treasure and skip the everyday dishes that are available all year long.
  • And don’t think it’s your responsibility to sample everything on the buffet. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favourites, then find a seat and slowly savour every mouthful.

Watch those eggnogs!

  • Choose your drinks wisely. Alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories – especially holiday favourites like eggnog. Eggnog has close to 300 calories for a small glass. Cut your alcohol calories in half by alternating water or seltzer between alcoholic beverages.
  • And if you do splurge, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t give up. Just get right back to normal eating and exercising, and try to do a better job at the next party.

Be sure to keep active during the holiday season. Ice skating, skiing, shoveling and many other winter activities are a great way to keep active and to have fun.

Tenille Sonnichsen is the Reh-Fit dietitian.

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