‘Tis the season to be jolly, but for some of us the Christmas and New Year period is downright stressful.
Below are some tips from Holistic Nutritionist and Accredited Practising Dietitian, Sarah Leung on maintaining healthy habits over the Christmas period.
1) Drink Sensibly
As the Christmas and New Year period approaches, your calendar will no doubt fill up with work parties, social and family commitments.
Alcohol will probably be flowing during these gatherings, but it’s important to maintain perspective around social drinking.
Alcohol is notorious for providing ‘empty calories’ and zero nutrition, apart from being a source of energy.
While you may feel more relaxed after having a drink, it’s important to note that alcohol is a depressant. Excessive drinking can lead to low mood, anxiety and potentially aggressive behaviour.
Try to limit yourself to one or two drinks only, as a glass of white wine in a restaurant (150mL) contains around 14g of alcohol and 426kJ (101cals). This means 3 or 4 glasses of wine are equivalent in energy to a meal.
Also, make sure you stay hydrated by matching each glass of alcohol with a glass of water.
2) Be Mindful
Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties often serve canapés or small bites to eat. But, while canapés are small, kilojoules can add up very quickly. For example, just one small Indian samosa contains around 420kJ (100cals).
Try to eat small and frequent meals during the day rather than turning up to a party hungry and binge on everything in sight as soon as you arrive.
Also, watch the leftovers…They don’t all have to be eaten on Boxing Day! Give some leftover food to friends and family and freeze what you can to avoid binge eating.
3) Plan Ahead
Plan ahead for your next Christmas party. Offer to host the party at your house so you have more control in healthy food choices.
If you aren’t hosting, why not bring a healthy plate? Sometimes just knowing that there will be food you can eat at a party can help you to stay on track with eating well.
Some suggestions for a ‘healthy plate’ include homemade Vietnamese rice paper rolls, a large platter of raw vegetables (carrot, cucumber, capsicum, cauliflower, green beans) and reduced fat dip such as hummus, air-popped popcorn or wholegrain crackers and dips.
Slight modifications, such as including more fruit than chocolate and cream, can put pudding well and truly back on the menu (Fruit Christmas tree with custard, anyone?).
4) Stay Active
The weather is heating up and it’s time to make the most of the amazing summer sun and keep moving!
Whether it’s a morning or evening walk or jog or a friendly game of backyard cricket, get outside and soak up some valuable Vitamin D. This is also a great way to connect with friends and family, who will most likely be enjoying annual leave.
As the saying goes ‘Christmas comes but once a year.’ There is no need to punish yourself and there is still room to eat small portions of your favourite foods.
It’s really all about balance – don’t replace binge eating with starvation dieting.
If you have firm weight loss goals in place, or are on meal plan, don’t be discouraged if your weight loss plateaus over the Christmas period.
Remember to be kind to yourself and make maintaining your weight your new goal until all the social eating commitments subside.