In order to break this vicious cycle, keep the below tips in mind for you to healthfully navigate the holiday parties one after another in this jolly month without adding onto your waistline unnecessarily!
Prioritize your plate
Before you start piling up your plate, survey the food choices around the table first. That way, you will know what is coming and available so you can choose smaller portions of each. Get in the festive spirit by adding a little greens to your plate first, so that when you finally eat your favorite holiday dessert treat, it will be just one polite serving of a cake or cookie.
Stay nourished throughout the day to avoid going to parties overly-hungry
Schedule regular meals and snacks to prevent long gaps where you end up not eating anything. Some people make the common mistake of trying to compensate for special treats by skipping lunch or dinner, only to arrive to a party too hungry. You probably have heard this advice ‘Don’t arrive to parties on empty stomach’. This is true! Skipping meals all day to cut calories before a big event can backfire if you start chowing down as soon as you arrive. When you combine being too hungry with the oh-so-delicious holiday food, it is very likely that you will overeat and exceed what your body needs!
Enjoy all foods with mindful eating
Mindful eating means eating with intention and attention (or purpose and awareness) to your food and body. Eating is supposed to be pleasurable, so take your time to slow down and savour the food in front of you – the appearance, aroma, texture and taste. When you are more mindful during eating, you may notice that you feel fuller sooner and are satisfied with smaller portions. By doing so, you will regain the control back from the food and reduce any triggers that could possibly lead to overeating.
It’s a matter of choice
Good news is that you don’t have to completely cut off that brownie craving. By just doing simple food swaps for lower calorie options, you make major calorie savings, because every little switch helps! For instance, instead of pastries/pies go for bruschetta topped with smoked salmon and cherry tomatoes. Instead of salad with mayo dressings, choose olive oil with a dash of herbs and spices. Instead of breaded or deep fried fish fillet, go for baked or grilled ones. Instead of chocolate puddings/desserts, opt for fresh fruit jellies or parfaits. Voila! You save at least 500 kcal in total!
Engage in physical activities and get plenty of sleep
This holiday season should not be the excuse for you to slack off. Establish an exercise routine and stick to it through the holidays to welcome the New Year. You certainly do not want to regret later on that few kilos that you might have gained! In addition, sleep deprivation interferes with hunger and fullness cues and may lead to overeating unconsciously.
Last but not the least, try to manage your busy schedules well so that you will not end up overindulging in food as your great escape to counter the physical and emotional stress. Christmas is absolutely a time of indulgence, but remember to indulge healthily by following these 5 easy tips! Bring your family together to achieve nutritional and caloric balance during this holiday season, while enhancing your enjoyment of holiday foods.
by Ang Hui Inn
Clinical Dietitian B.Sc (Hons) Nutrition and Dietetics, IMU Member of Malaysian Dietitians’ Association (MDA) Hui Inn received her credential in nutrition & dietetics from International Medical University (IMU), Kuala Lumpur. She is currently working in a hospital as a clinical dietitian. Her goal as a dietitian is to inspire, motivate and empower others on sustainable living through healthy diet and lifestyle. View all articles by Ang Hui Inn.