Healthy eating tips for the holiday season

It’s that wonderful time of the year when we look forward to spending quality time with loved ones. The time to relax and enjoy ourselves is essential for our wellbeing, but it is also during the holiday season that we tend to forget about our healthy eating habits. 

Endless options of food can make it easy to overeat, and you might fall off your healthy eating bandwagon. When January comes, many of us are left with regret about the unhealthy choices we made during the holiday season. However, all hope is not lost. It is very much possible to strike a balance between enjoying the occasional treat and maintaining good eating habits. 

 Here are my top 7 tips for healthy eating and safeguarding your waistline this festive season:

#1 Eat before a party

 Start your day with a balanced and healthy breakfast that includes whole-grain foods, low-fat protein and fruit. It’s best to avoid going to parties or gatherings on an empty stomach to prevent overeating or over-indulging on festive treats. 

Also, before you start eating the main course, ‘cheat’ by eating a healthy dish that contains lots of low-energy dense-foods such as vegetable soups or salads or vegetable soups. These healthy foods will fill you up before you hit the roasts, pies and desserts. 

 #2 Stick to water

 One easy trick I’ve learned is to limit my calorie by drinking enough water. Drinking a glass of water fills you up even more than drinking a can of a soft drink — minus the calories. So instead of a juice, soft drink or an alcoholic drink, opt for a few glasses of water instead. 

 If you’re attending an informal gathering such as a house party or braai, consider bringing your own water bottle filled with water and strawberries, or lemon and cucumber. These alternatives are more refreshing than plain water and will instantly quench your thirst.

 # 3 Offer/bring healthy dishes for healthy eating.

 Whether you are the guest or host at a gathering, you can make things easier on yourself by offering or bringing healthier dish alternatives. Offer plenty of vegetables and high-fibre carbohydrates like brown rice, beans, and wholegrain bread.

Where possible, include fish in your meal. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna are high in omega 3-fatty acids and are good for the heart.

When you serve meat, offer lean meats rather than fatty cuts. For example, you can remove the skin from poultry before cooking. Stay away from deep-frying and instead stir-fry, steam, grill, and boil your food.

 #4. Use a smaller plate to aid healthy eating 

Research shows that switching from an 11-inch dinner plate to a 10-inch plate makes people serve themselves less food.

Fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with starch and a quarter with protein such as chicken, fish, meat or beans. 

 #5. Eat small dollops of desserts and dressing.

Healthy eating doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of the good stuff. Eat a small piece of dessert with a bigger portion of fruit salad. When preparing desserts, use low-fat milk instead of cream. Enjoy your salad dressings, but go easy on them as they tend to be loaded with fat.

 #6 Eat slowly

 Eat slowly and focus on socialising rather than eating. Eating slowly gives your body time to register that you have had enough, so you don’t overeat. On the other hand, eating too fast does not allow the body to send a signal to let you know that you are full. The benefits of slow eating include better digestion, better hydration, easier weight loss or maintenance, and greater satisfaction with our meals.

#7 Last but not least, enjoy yourself!

The festive season is all about having fun and spending quality time with loved ones. Don’t get too bogged down by your diet and forget about enjoying yourself. Allow yourself the occasional indulgence, while still being kind to your body and spirit. Delicious (and healthy) food is always at our fingertips and the festive season is no exception. Now that’s something to be grateful for this holiday season!

 If you need more tips in the new year about how to get rid of that excess holiday weight, feel free to schedule a consultation with me. 

 I’d like to wish you a very jolly holiday season surrounded with loved ones and filled with all things merry- from my family to yours. 

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