Holiday Season Survival: How to Eat, Drink & still be Merry

by Karissa Woolfe, Accredited Practising Dietitian

When it comes to food and the holiday season, it seems there is an unwritten rule: “Thou shalt overeat”. Overeating can lead to one or more of the following: a major case of the food sweats, gastrointestinal discomfort, food guilt, wishing you’d worn looser pants, hunting the medicine cabinet for Quick-Eze or nodding off into a ‘food- coma’. Can you relate?

Nutrition Australia report Australians gain an average 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period, an amount which American researchers say is rarely lost. The good news is we can enjoy a healthy relationship with food this holiday season. Here are four tips on how to eat, drink and still be merry, without the health risks.

Tip #1 Cherish the celebration  

A healthy relationship with food means more than “all” or “nothing”. The “all” approach has you eating everything, potentially affecting your blood glucose levels and waistline. The “nothing” approach sees you deny yourself and adhere strictly to rigid food rules. Both rob you of joy. Focusing on the celebration and cherishing time with family/friends moves your attention away from what you can/cannot eat, and fosters joy.

Tip #2 Savour the flavour

When visiting friends and relatives, scan what is available before digging in. This gives you time to select foods that appeal most to your senses, and dish up an amount that is in tune with your appetite. Chew slowly and savour the flavour for maximum satisfaction. This helps you notice when you are filling up, so you have the option to stop before feeling stuffed full.

Tip #3 Beware of the nibbles & drinks

On food filled days, nibbles and drinks can undo the best of intentions. Minimise damage by:

  • Moving away from the nibbles so you’re not tempted to eat on auto-pilot.
  • Swapping chips for home-made dip and veggie sticks.
  • Staying hydrated. Often when we’re peckish, we’re actually thirsty, so remember to drink plenty of water.
  • When drinking alcohol, consider lighter options like light beer, reduced alcohol wine, spirits with soda water or a diet mixer.

Tip #4 Burn up those extra calories by staying active

Make the most of summer and enjoy being active. Beaches are the perfect spot for a walk and swim. Why not get the family involved with throwing the Frisbee, playing outdoor cricket, having a hit of tennis, going for bike rides or the pool for a splash.

Recipe Ideas: Seafood is a low calorie option to enjoy over Christmas

  • Swap the creamy prawn cocktail for barbecued prawns with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Fresh oysters with a twist of lime.
  • Cucumber rounds topped with a smear of fresh avocado, smoked salmon and fresh dill.
  • Wrap a whole fish in foil and chuck it in the Webber. Stuff it with chopped fresh herbs, spring onions, lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil.
Holiday Season Survival: How to Eat, Drink & still be Merry