How to keep healthy in the holiday season

So you’ve just committed to some health and lifestyle goals - right in the middle of the holiday season and all the Christmas feasting that goes with it.

But special occasions don’t need to derail healthy living. Here are some tips for negotiating celebrations so you don’t have to shut down your social life and still maintain your health and lifestyle goals.

Pace yourself

  • If it’s just the one day of celebration, relax and enjoy – but consider carefully what you eat and drink on the days leading up to it. A special day can sometimes turn into a week of dinners and gatherings, so choose to eat moderately at each party.

Increase exercise

  • If you find yourself eating far more than normal consider increasing your exercise and activity levels.

Share food gifts

  • ​If you happen to get food gifts – plan to share them around with friends and family.

Reduce snacking

  • ​Resist filling up on chips or snacks before the main meal is served.

Reduce serve size

  • ​If possible take smaller serving sizes.

Don't buy too far in advance

  • Avoid buying special foods too far in advance – keep temptations out of your home.

Don't over cater

  • ​Concern about running out of food often leads to over catering – plan your menu carefully to avoid this.

Fresh not processed

  • ​Choose a menu with lots of nutritious fresh foods rather than relying on processed treats. For example dessert could be a fresh fruit platter featuring fresh seasonal fruits.

Use smaller dishes and glasses

  • Serve food in small bowls/platters – research shows that we tend to eat less if food is served in smaller dishes. The same rule applies for drinks, use small glasses or cups.

Make it easy for celebrations to get active

  • ​Where possible plan to include activities at your event that don’t involve eating or drinking – for example, take your party outdoors to a park, lake or beach where you can be active.

Don't keep leftovers all to yourself

  • Pack up leftover nibbles and treats to send home with your guests to remove temptation.

With a little planning you can still enjoy a few treats when celebrating and stay on track with your health goals.

First published in Sanitarium’s Good food news