Let’s face it, the holiday season is that time of the year where we often put our healthy eating habits aside to indulge in copious amounts of delicious food and drink and say “adios” to the top button of our pants.

This isn’t exactly ideal for your waistline – but what if you could enjoy the glorious festive season without sabotaging your health?

In this article, we’re sharing our top tips on how you can stay healthy during the holiday season. And no this is not a celery stick instead of Christmas pudding type affair where you’ll be the only sober one at the party…we’re all about balance!


1. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it

Be picky with what you choose to put on your plate. How often do you take a bite of food and it’s not that good but you eat it anyway? It’s not a case of denying yourself indulgences, but if you don’t love it, don’t eat it.

Starting the holiday season with the intention of eating only salads and not having any treats is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, avoid filling up on non-favourites — think quality rather than quantity


2. You don’t have to finish what’s on your plate

If you don’t happen to choose wisely or you end up overfilling your plate, it doesn’t mean you need to become a human rubbish disposal. While we dislike plate waste, overeating can be detrimental to our health and the environment. That’s right, overeating is another form of food waste.

If you find you overfill your plate, try and take home the leftovers. This will provide you with delicious food to enjoy another day, prevent food waste and avoid upsetting Aunt Susan who spent all morning slaving away in the kitchen.


3. Drink Wisely

Alcohol is something many of us have a love/hate relationship with. It’s packed with unwanted kilojoules, impairs muscle recovery, causes hangovers and dehydration. It also loosens our inhibitions, which increases the likelihood of eating things you wouldn’t normally…hello round 3 pavlova! As dietitians, it would be unrealistic to expect that you would forego alcohol during the holiday season. If you choose not to drink, well done. If you are drinking then choose wisely.

Here’s a few tips to keep you on track with your drinking:

  • Don’t keep topping up that wine glass. Continuously topping up your wine glass can make it very easy to lose track of how much you’ve consumed. Pour a glass and enjoy it.
  • Plan your drinks. It’s a simple but strategic way to enjoy alcohol in moderation. You might decide to have a cocktail during happy hour and a glass of wine with dinner. By deciding in advance, and telling your partner or a friend, you can pace yourself while still enjoying your beverage of choice!
  • Alternate between water and alcohol: Before getting yourself another drink, have a glass of water in between. It’s a nice cycle to keep track of how much alcohol you have consumed.
  • Choose lower calorie options:
    • Vodka, lime and soda – 63 calories (262 kilojoules)
    • 375mL glass light beer – 92 calories (386 kilojoules)
    • 375mL low carb beer – 108 calories (451 kilojoules)
    • 150mL glass red wine – 102 calories (426 kilojoules)
    • 150mL glass white wine – 106 calories (443 kilojoules)
    • 150mL glass rose – 119 calories (497 kilojoules)
    • 150mL glass champagne – 111 calories (464kJ)


4. Eat Mindfully

Adopting mindful eating techniques is one of the best ways to prevent overeating.

Mindful Eating is all about focusing on the moment and being aware of thoughts, emotions, and senses while consuming food.

If you can, try to sit down while you’re eating as it will help you to take smaller bites, chew your food slowly and enjoy the experience. When you’re eating, notice the taste, texture and smell of the food with each bite. These steps will help you to feel satisfied with the food you’ve eaten and less likely to rush back for seconds unnecessarily.


5. Drink plenty of water

During the holiday season your routine might change a little. This change to your usual routine might affect when you drink or what fluids you drink. Research has indicated that people eat more when they’re dehydrated because they mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger.

Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. It’s simple, but can honestly have a huge impact.

Here’s some tips to up your liquid intake during the holiday season:

  • Set a timer every hour or so to remember to get up and hydrate
  • Keep a drink bottle on you at all times
  • Have jug of water with some fresh fruit nearby
  • Buy yourself some kombucha to leave in the fridge
  • Enjoy sipping on herbal teas throughout the day
  • Get yourself a soda stream so you can have sparkling water on tap
  • Keep a jug or bottle of water in the fridge. Nothing quite quenches your thirst like an icy cold glass of H2O.


6. Focus on Veggies

Whether you’re out for dinner or at a function, try and keep an eye out for vegetables and load your plate up with these first. As dietitians, veggies get a big YES from us and we will plug them wherever we can. When you go out for dinner, vegetables are sometimes few and far between, so scoping them out and adding them to your plate is key. They are low in kilojoules but high in fibre, which will help to keep you feeling full.

If you’re going to a friend’s place for dinner, consider bringing a dish that is vegetable based e.g. a salad or some roasted vegetables.


Bottom Line

Don’t let the holiday season call the shots this year. Make healthy decisions when you can and rather than switching off completely, remain in control of your choices. Enjoy the time spent with friends and family without overindulging.