The holiday season can be a challenging time of year to keep nutrition goals on track with social calendars filling up and “to-do” lists growing. Delicious holiday treats and favourite foods are also plentiful during this festive time and it can be difficult not to treat yourself and then worry about your over-indulgences. With all the holiday season hustle and bustle, it may feel like a heroic effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition and physical activity. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, take charge with these holiday survival strategies, still enjoy the season and keep your nutrition goals in check.
Before the Festive Gathering
Don’t save-up by not eating
Because holiday parties often involve eating later, show up to the gathering properly fueled. Have a wholesome snack before attending to take the edge off your hunger. This will prevent overeating when you arrive. Try a snack that combines protein and carbohydrate. Here are some great options to try:
- Greek yogurt with berries and granola
- Wedge of cheese and a few whole grain crackers
- Handful of nuts and an apple or a mandarin orange
- Cottage cheese and canned fruit
Attending a potluck
Bring a healthy option, so you can rest-assured there will be at least one nutritious choice at the soiree.
Some of our favourite holiday potluck suggestions that are guaranteed crowd-pleasers include:
Other great options to bring include:
- Vegetable or fruit plate
- Tossed green salad
- Many bean salad
- Finger sandwiches
During the party
Give yourself a food budget
Think of the party buffet as a menu and only pick what you really want from the spread. Don’t feel obligated to try some of everything that is available just to be polite.
Practice portion control. If there are plates use them. This way you can fill your plate and actually see how much food you are eating.
Choose a lunch-sized plate to fill instead of a dinner sized one.
Avoid lingering at the buffet table or sitting by the spread of appetizers to prevent unnecessary eating.
Don’t feel guilty for enjoying a holiday dessert, select the smaller sized dainties, consider cutting your own smaller serving of dessert, or share a dessert with your partner or a friend.
Get rid of your plate and napkin when you are finished eating.
Indulge in conversation instead of food. Have conversations away from the food table.
- Make your first drink a glass of soda or mineral water with a lemon or lime wedge. This will satisfy your thirst, helping you to drink your alcoholic beverage more slowly.
- Alternate between an alcoholic beverage and a light, non-alcoholic beverage such as soda water, mineral water or diet pop.
Keep in mind alcohol can add significant calories to your gathering. It also stimulates appetite and reduces willpower. For example, 4 oz of eggnog and 1 ½ oz of dark rum = about 300 calories. A couple of those are equal to the calories in one meal.
After the Party
Go for a family walk in your neighborhood. View the festive decorations your street, try tobogganing, ice skating, cross country skiing, or building snowmen or “snow chickens!” If the weather is too cold to be outside choose other indoor activities such as swimming or bowling.