Holiday Eating Done Right

Along with holiday cheer comes holiday beer…and, eggnog, cakes, cookies and chocolates. Following these tips through the season will help you stay on track with our healthy living goals while enjoying the festivities.

Christmas party…

1. Have a light snack about an hour before so you don’t arrive starving. A light snack will curb your appetite and make it easier to choose the right foods and the right amounts. Check out the Walking for Fitness book (pages 73-91) available through SportMedBC for more tips on making wise choices.

2. If making multiple trips to the buffet table, take vegetables, fruits, low-fat rice or pasta and lean meats during the first trip, then go for smaller portions of other foods during the second.

3. Keep an eye on portion sizes. It is often not what you eat, but how much that can lead to overindulgences. As a guide try to fill your plate with half vegetables, ¼ grains and ¼ lean protein to keep portion sizes in check.

4. Be wary of sugary foods! Always remember that rich, sugary foods have a nasty habit of making us crave even more rich and sugary foods. Enjoy the extra treats in moderation. Have a small portion, such as one shortbread cookie or a small serving of minced meat pie. 

5. Finger pick the right foods. Load up on the veggies like cucumber, zucchini and broccoli florets at the finger food tables. Choosing veggies over high fat cheese plates and one-bite appetizers will help keep your fat and energy intake in check and will increase the nutritional quality of your food.

6. Don't forget to count calories from alcohol. If drinking alcoholic-containing beverages, do so in moderation and choose those made with diet or club soda instead of juice or full-calorie soda. Limit alcoholic drinks to a maximum of 2. Try a mix of cranberry juice and club soda as a lower sugar option.

7. Use the appetizer plate for your dinner plate. A few strange looks is worth it for sticking to your goals.

Baking and cooking…

1. A good chef must taste everything he or she serves right? A few extra spoonfuls here and there can add up to an entire meal pretty fast.  Keep your sampling in check by having one small taste of your creations.

2. Grandma’s old-fashioned ginger snaps are not to be tampered with. Make everyone happy by making a conventional batch and a healthier batch (see recipe below). Or, venture to make a different healthier dessert like exotic fruit salad with balsamic vinegar and mint leaves.

Healthy Ginger Snaps
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp extra light olive oil
1 1/2 cups Whole Grain Spelt Flour
1 tbsp FiberSure
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Mix wet ingredient and dry separately. Add dry to wet. For 24 round balls & flatten on oiled sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 min.

3. Serve crispy pita triangles, flatbreads, and whole wheat triscuits as alternatives to salty, high fat snack crackers.

4. Try using lower fat recipes for dressings and gravies. To check out how your recipe measures up try the Recipe Analyzer on the Dietitians of Canada website.

Keep track and stay on track…

1. Make physical activity part of the holiday. Get the family up for an after dinner walk, tobogganing or snowshoeing. Exercise is also a great stress reliever – and there's no denying that the holidays are stressful.

2. Track what you are eating and activity levels over on Dietitians of Canada EATracker.

3. Ask yourself this simple question when you’re about to take seconds – "Am I hungry because I see food that I like, or because my body actually needs nutrition?" Listen to your stomach and eat until you are no longer hungry, not until you are full.

4. Be assertive and watch out for ‘friendemies’ – those who like to feed, feed, feed you. Don’t feel as though you have to say yes to everything offered.

5. Keep note of your weight over the season. Don’t wait until January 1st to get back on track – it is easier if you don’t get off.

6. Plan ahead. Make a personal guideline for social occasions:

  • How many sugary drinks, if any
  • How you will portion your plate
  • Which foods you will choose
  • Portion of desserts you will sample

Make the holidays a celebration of health, family and friends.

For more healthy eating tips, recipes or to contact a Registered Dietitian visit


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