‘Tis the season to indulge, as family celebrations and other festive get-togethers lead to overeating. The best way to approach this time of year is to have a plan in place that lets you enjoy the season’s festivities without those familiar feelings of guilt and lethargy. Luckily, we’ve found eight easy ways for you to enjoy the holidays without going overboard.
1. Don’t go out on an empty stomach
Before any kind of festive get-together, ensure that you have a good breakfast or lunch. Skipping meals will only make you hungry, and therefore more likely to make poor food choices. Eating breakfast also kick-starts your metabolism and keeps you feeling full, so it’s easier to say no to temptations later on. A low-fat yogurt or a handful of almonds are both quick snacks that you can grab before you head out.
2. Take a healthy dish with you
If you’re asked to prepare something for the holiday gathering (or even if you’re not), make your own health-conscious option that you know you can fill up on. Taking your own means there’s at least one healthy option on the table.
3. Have the right attitude
Make festive get-togethers more about spending quality time with the people around you and less about food. When you arrive with the right attitude, you’ll find that you pay less attention to what there is to eat. If the festive period is a stressful time for you, find ways to comfort and calm yourself that doesn’t involve bingeing on food.
4. Go easy on the booze
It’s tough not to join in the festivities when the champagne is being corked, but try to cut down on your alcohol intake during the festive season. If you overdo it, alcohol can increase your appetite and decrease your resistance, so you’ll be more likely to reach for that second or third fruit mince pie. Aside from everything else, alcohol is just empty calories that you could rather be spending on (healthy) food.
5. Feast your eyes
When you arrive at the event, take a moment to survey the spread. Think about which foods you’d really like to eat, and which ones aren’t worth your time. It’s important to remind yourself that you can be picky and that you don’t need to have one of everything.
6. Fill up on the good stuff
Before you dish up, try drinking a large glass of water (or two) and then head towards the salad. Once you’ve loaded your plate with fruits and vegetables, then you can meander towards the more decadent stuff. Greens are full of fibre so you’ll stay fuller (but not uncomfortable) for longer, without the calories. A good rule of thumb is to divide your plate into three parts: one half and two quarters. Fill half your plate with salad and a ¼ with meat and the other ¼ with wholegrain starch. For dessert, opt for fruit to satisfy any sweet cravings.
7. Play it cool
If the party features a buffet table, then fill a small plate with no more than two food items at once and then walk away. Mingle with other guests and avoid grabbing appetizers as they pass by. Being the first in line for food also means you’ll be finished before everyone else and more tempted to go back for seconds, so move away and savour your food before heading back for more. Don’t deprive yourself, but choose carefully, saving your calories for the things you really like.
8. Remember to keep moving
It’s easy to forget to exercise at this time of year. We’re tired and our routines are forgotten in favour of relaxing and socialising. However, it’s important to maintain some sort of exercise regime, even if it means walking for just 15 minutes a day. Not only is exercise a great stress buster, but it also helps to combat the effects of overeating.
Despite what you may think, it’s possible to enjoy the festive season without eating too much. So, reach for those vegetables, remember to exercise and you’ll still have a great holiday period.
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor Claire Badenhorst