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Christmas time is full of traditions like decorating, gift giving, caroling, and, of course, special foods shared in the celebrations. So how can holiday eating fit into a healthy lifestyle without resulting in feelings of deprivation or guilt? All foods can fit in a healthy lifestyle – by focusing on variety, moderation, and balance. Below are some tips to help incorporate these strategies over the holidays:
Keep hydrated – this can keep you from eating when you're really just thirsty. Try flavouring water or carbonated water with sliced fruit like lemons, limes or berries, or enjoy a mug of hot herbal tea. Be cautious with sweet beverages and alcohol, as the calories can add up fast. Use sparkling water to dilute or alternate with higher calorie drinks.
Curb your hunger – eating regular balanced meals with a source of protein and carbohydrate with fibre can reduce cravings and over eating. Continue to follow healthy guidelines and start meals by choosing colourful vegetables and fruit, satisfying whole grains, and lean protein foods.
Skip the calories that don't excite you and take time to enjoy the foods you look forward to. When it comes to treats, choose a few of your favorites and savor them slowly. By focusing on what you're eating and your enjoyment of it, you can free yourself from guilt. You may be surprised that a small portion eaten mindfully can be more satisfying, and, of course, fewer calories, than a large serving eaten quickly.
Respect your fullness. Stop eating when your body signals that you're satisfied; don't eat till it hurts. If you've overestimated your hunger, save the leftovers for another time. To avoid over-filling your plate, start with small portions and only take more of the items that you really enjoyed. Also don't feel pressured to have some more just because it was offered; instead, give the host a compliment.
Keep moving – plan to include physical activity in celebrations. An after-meal walk can help with digestion and be a social outing for all.
So, celebrate the season with traditions that you love and take time to relax and enjoy!
Happy Healthy Holidays, Dietitans of Canada: www.unlockfood.ca/en/articles/holidays-celebrations/happy-healthy-holidays.aspx
AHS Healthy Holiday Eating Handout 607861-NFS: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/nutrition/if-nfs-healthy-holiday-eating.pdf