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Healthy eating secrets for the holidays

Published by: LifeWorks,

All through the year, we celebrate holidays and special occasions such as Christmas and New Year’s where the food is generally the highlight of the event. From roast turkeys, lamb and rice to chocolate, cookies and Yule log, family and friends everywhere meet and a huge celebration takes place that can derail healthy eating if we’re not careful. That’s why, at times like these most people tend to put on a few kilos and once it’s over, they start their New Year resolutions by going on crash diets!

To avoid weight gain, all you need to do is follow these healthy eating tips to help guide you during the holiday season without feeling deprived:

  • Remind yourself why healthy choices are important in the first place. More Christmas stuffing or more fresh salad? Think about the benefits the healthier choices will bring you. If you want to change your diet to improve your overall health, have more energy, or manage your weight, keep these motivators in mind.
  • Think ahead and pre-plan. Before you go to a party or sit at the festive table, have a small healthy snack, such as carrots with hummus, and drink some water to curb your hunger. After dinner, have a sugar-free mint or piece of gum to discourage snacking.
  • Take your time before filling your plate. Check all the food options and give yourself a chance to decide which items you really enjoy as a special treat and which ones you can pass on.
  • Be creative and bring a healthy dish to share. Vibrant winter salads or low-fat yoghurt-based dips with herbs will be more than welcome!
  • Being healthy doesn’t mean you cannot indulge in moderation. Yes, you can have a slice of that Christmas cake or a couple of pigs in blankets – simply choose which of the high-calorie treats at an event are your favourites and enjoy a small amount. Just be careful with sauces and gravies because they are usually high in calories, fat and sodium.
  • Eat mindfully. Mindful eating is all about paying attention to the way we eat. So slow down and really savour each bite. Tuning into what you eat can be enough to help you make better choices and avoid overeating.
  • Make special occasions about the people, not the food. Focus more on enjoying the company of others and not as much on the food.
  • Big night ahead? Watch what you drink. Liquid calories from sweetened beverages and alcohol can add up quickly without helping you feel full. Avoid those or only have them in moderation and drink plenty of water as well.
  • Don’t eat it, swap it! For example, use unsweetened applesauce instead of butter, replace half or more of the flour with whole grain flour instead of regular and experiment with using less sugar. Try using only half or three-quarters of the sugar your recipe calls for. You probably won’t notice a difference.
  • Keep up with regular exercise. It can help you maintain a balance if you overindulge, and it also helps with stress. Get your exercise done in the morning, so you can enjoy the rest of the day. Short and sweet does the trick!

No one is perfect so if you find that you overindulged during a holiday dinner or special occasion, simply focus on
your next meal and get back to making healthy choices.

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