Food is how we celebrate and show love. It’s often part of our culture and there’s rarely a social occasion where food isn’t involved.
However, throughout the festive season, it’s easy to overdo the calories, thereby putting on unwanted kilos and not feeling our best. In this article, Bluff Road Medical Centre dietitian Samantha Oxenham shares her top tips for maintaining a healthy diet. Let’s take a look.
Tip #1: Increase your energy output
If you do find you’re indulging more frequently during the festive season, add in some extra exercise to your routine. This can be planned exercise, or incidental exercise, like taking the stairs instead of the lift, or parking a little further away. Often taking a healthy approach to exercise also helps motivate one to eat healthily.
Tip #2: Plan ahead
If you know the location of an event, for example if you have a Christmas party at a particular restaurant, look up the menu online beforehand. Go through the menu and choose a healthy option ahead of time, so that you’re less tempted when you arrive.
Tip #3: Watch your portions
At events like cocktail parties, it’s easy to lose sight of the number of canapés you’ve consumed. As a rule of thumb, 5 canapés is about the same size as a meal. That means by the time you’ve had 15 canapes, you’ve actually eaten about 3 meals.
Pastry-based canapes tend to be high in calories, so instead opt for lean proteins such as prawns, lean meat skewers or sushi.
Tip #4: Choose lean protein options with veggies/salads
If you’re having a meal, the desired proportion should be ½ plate of vegetables or salad, ¼ plate of lean protein (meat, chicken or fish for example) and ¼ plate carbohydrates (such as rice, pasta or grains (e.g. quinoa).
Be mindful of high carbohydrate and high fat options like creamy pasta or pizza, avoid fried foods and processed meat like sausages. Choose sides of veggies/ salads instead.
Tip #5: Don’t arrive hungry
If you know you’re hungry before an event, have a healthy snack or small meal before you arrive. Fill up on vegetables or salad, lean protein (meat, chicken or fish) and wholegrain carbs like pasta, grains, breads, quinoa, or legumes. If you feel semi full, you’ll be less inclined to overindulge at the event.
Tip #6: Skip dessert or keep it healthy
Often one to two courses are enough. You don’t have to go for three. If you do choose to have dessert, select a fruit-based option.
Tip #7: Know your weaknesses
If you really want to eat something, go for it – just make sure you have a smaller portion and consider making sacrifices elsewhere. Enjoy the Christmas pudding, but skip the chips or the wine, for example. Sometimes the worst thing you can do is try to deprive yourself of something completely, as you may end up succumbing and eating more of it.
Tip #8: Limit your alcohol intake
Alcohol is loaded with kilojoules, so limit your alcohol intake by drinking slowly, alternating alcoholic drinks with water and ensuring you eat while you’re drinking. Make your mixes low calories (diet soft drink or soda water) and set yourself a limit before you attend an event.
Tip #9: Bring a healthy plate
If you’re attending a potluck function where everyone brings a plate, make sure yours is something healthy, like a vegetable platter with hummus, crackers, berries and nuts. That way, if you’re hungry and want to fill up on healthy options, there’ll be something there for you.
Tip #10: Remember your H20
Did you know your hunger signal can actually mean you’re thirsty? Make sure you fill up by having adequate water each day. During the summer months, you should aim to consume at least 2L a day – more if you’re exercising or it’s hot. Water can go a long way to ensuring we’re not overindulging.
If you’d like to know more about how to achieve better health outcomes through diet, Sam Oxenham consults at Bluff Road Medical Centre monthly on a Saturday. As a qualified dietician, Sam can help you achieve your weight goals and offer advice about conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Please give us a call on 03 9598 6244.