A Dietitian's 5 tips for a Healthy Christmas

Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends, cook up a barbeque, prepare your famous Christmas pavlova and celebrate the end of another year together. While the festive season brings us all together, it can also be a stressful time for those trying to make nutritious food choices and lead a healthy lifestyle.

It is important to understand that it is possible to enjoy festive meals with family and friends while staying on track to meet your health goals. To help you achieve this balance throughout the festive season, Hit 100’s dietitians have put together some tips to guide you through the holiday period:

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  1. Have a plan. Christmas and new year celebrations can go on for days or even weeks so it’s important to have a plan of attack. At parties, be mindful of your intake of fried foods like chips, wedges, party pies or sausage rolls, and always be sure to eat them with a healthy side of vegetables and salad. If you have a sweet tooth, perhaps head for a fruit-based dessert. If you’re in charge of bringing a dish to the party, bring a delicious salad or roast vegetable dish. This will guarantee you will have a healthy option when it’s time to eat.

  2. Be in control of your portions. It’s difficult to keep track of how much you are eating when you’re enjoying finger food or going back and forth from a buffet. Serve yourself up a good portion of food by filling half your plate with vegetables or salad, 1 quarter of your plate with meat and the remaining quarter with carbohydrates like potato, rice or pasta.  Wait around 10 to 15 minutes after you have finished your plate to see if you are still hungry for more.

  3. Reduce the temptations at home. It can be very tempting to stock up on candy canes and Christmas chocolates in the weeks leading up to Christmas. To prevent mindless snacking on sweet treats throughout the week, try not to have them at home. Save the extra sweets for your friends and family on Christmas Day.

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4. Don’t feel guilty about what you eat. Christmas is a time to celebrate and shouldn’t be ruined by stressing about calories. If you know you have a sweet tooth and you’re not going to be able to resist serving up a portion of Christmas cake or trifle, serve yourself a smaller main meal and save room for a small portion of dessert to enjoy. Despite what you may think, dessert stomachs do not actually exist!

5. Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories so if you’re choosing to drink at a social event, set yourself a limit before you arrive. Choose the low carbohydrate versions of beer or cider and switch sugary mixers with the diet version or soda water. Don’t forget to drink water between each drink to stay hydrated.

Christmas time is meant to be enjoyed but it doesn’t have to compromise your health. Don’t forget to stay active and maintain control of your diet using these 5 tips.

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SARAH EVANS - DIETITIAN (APD)