Home > Food & Nutrition > How to Survive the Holiday Feasting
I don’t want a lot for Christmas….there is just one thing I need: FOOD!
One of the hallmarks of a good Christmas gathering is undeniably the array of sumptuous goodies that line the dining table. Who doesn’t love getting together over a warm hearty meal and indulging in good food and good conversation?
But most festive food falls into the ‘comfort food’ category; which means it is higher in sugar, fat and calories, and comes with a lack of greens, legumes, and more high-fibre nutritious options. In that moment, when faced with all those tantalising choices, it’s easy to succumb to temptation.
But fear not! No soldier goes into battle alone without a plan. To truly enjoy the festivities whilst still eating right for your body, we’ve devised a strategic plan to approach your feasting rituals so that you can conquer that food table with grace and ease.
1. Don’t Go Into Battle on An Empty Stomach
We cannot stress this further- hunger makes you weak to the temptation of unhealthy foods and overeating. If your stomach growls at you, choose to calm it temporarily with lighter snacks before you leave home: carrot sticks and hummus, an apple with some nut butter, a handful of berries with yoghurt, or our favourite grab and go, dates. This will prevent you from attacking the food table once you reach the party or gathering, and give you time to decide which foods to savour and enjoy.
2. Exercise Restraint
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Don’t choose foods just because they are festive, but that could be a waste of calories and stomach space – fruit cake we’re looking at you. Load up on foods that are nutrient-dense or that you truly enjoy and love.
Start with the lighter foods like soups, salads and vegetables (if you have them). These will fill you up with healthy fibres and nutrients, before you decide whether to dive into the meat, poultry pasta and potatoes. In doing so, your body can signal to you when you are full and prevent you from stuffing yourself too quickly with heavier foods. Remember, it takes your brain about 20 minutes before signaling to your body if it’s full!
One tip is to rank all the food you see, and indulge in your top 5. Or, if you have the millennial syndrome of #FOMO (or fear of missing out), and need to taste everything, take just a tiny serving of each – we mean really tiny – before deciding which you like best and coming back for more.
3. Practice Mindful Eating
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Tinsels, fairy lights, music and lively chatter give a wonderful festive vibe. But, they can also be a bit of a distraction. Cue mindless eating: as you are deep in conversation, your hand goes into that bowl of chips, once, twice, again, and again, and again, until your fingertips suddenly touch the cool bottom surface of the bowl. Oops!
To prevent this situation from happening, we should always put food on a plate or napkin so we don’t get food amnesia. We will also be able to pay attention to how many helpings of food we’ve had. Smaller plates are ideal as it tricks the mind into thinking that the portion of food is bigger. It also makes you feel like you’re eating much more than you actually are, as you would have to go back for more helpings of food than someone with a bigger plate.
4. Drink Smart
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Many people are unaware of, or are happily ignorant of the deceptive number of calories alcoholic drinks contain. A pint of beer has about 200 calories and those pretty coloured cocktails can pack at least 200 to 400 calories with all the mixers and syrups added in. Not too much of an issue if you intend to indulge in only one glass. But most people would have at least 2 to 3 drinks throughout the party – you know who you are. This could come up to 500 calories or more just on drinks! Not to mention the absurd amounts of sugar they contain.
If you like to indulge in a tipple or two (or three) during the festivities, choose to go with wine, or spirits like whiskey, gin, vodka, and tequila, but have them neat or with soda water – add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice for a little zing and flavour. These should bring you to about 100 to 120 calories per serve.
A good idea would also be to alternate your alcoholic drinks with water. Water not only keeps you full (and away from the food table), it also helps to counteract your alcohol intake and prevent any hangovers.
5. Flutter Like a Social Butterfly
Rather than sitting down the entire party with a stack of food in front of you, get up, and move around! Better yet, try standing while you eat! This is the time to meet new people or reconnect with friends and family. Enjoy the company, music and ambience. Be present in your conversations and put the focus on people and the atmosphere, instead of on the food. Moving about also aids in food digestion, preventing any uncomfortable feeling of fullness, and the need to unbutton the top button of your pants!
Ready to Enjoy Your Holiday Feast?
We hope these healthy eating strategies have got you armed and ready to head into your holiday parties. At the end of the day, this season is about indulging in life’s pleasures with family and friends, basking in an atmosphere of love and joy, and being grateful for everything you have.
So, don’t beat yourself up if you let go a little. The discipline comes from regaining focus on your health goals after all the feasting, and getting back on track with your healthy lifestyle. Happy holidays!