Longer days in the sun, fresh seafood, summer fruit and if you’re lucky, a few days off work – what’s not to love about the festive period? For many of us a change in routine and a few more get togethers than usual can sometimes throw a spanner in the works when it comes to balanced eating. We understand that the lure of ‘treating yourself’ can be hard to resist even at the best of times, and during the festive season, it’s even more difficult. That’s why dietitians Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth have a few savvy tips to keep you feeling in control.
Check in with yourself: boredom vs hunger
The silly season for the majority of us means at least a couple of days off work and therefore a bit more down time than usual. A lazy day at home means 24/7 access to the fridge and pantry. To prevent the mindless grazing all day long, we recommend tuning in to those hunger cues before reaching for the nut jar. Is it hunger or are you just bored? If it’s boredom, try getting outside and being active.
Eat before you head out
Arriving at a party feeling ravenous usually doesn’t end well. Try and eat a small nutritious snack before you leave home to keep your cravings in check and to ensure you don’t go overboard (e.g. yoghurt, fruit, oats, nuts, veggie sticks and hummus). It’s best to save yourself for the main meal to prevent overeating.
Watch those portions
When the buffet table is overflowing, it can be easy to pile your plate higher than you would at home. Aim to fill your plate with lots of veggies, a lean source of protein and a low GI carbohydrate. Quick tip: try using a small entrée-sized plate to help prevent putting too much on your plate. Try using your hands to visually measure out portion sizes:
- Veggies – (non starchy) should be about the size of two hands
- Carbohydrates (e.g. pasta, rice, bread, potato) – should be about the size of your fist
- Protein (e.g. beef, chicken, fish, eggs) – should be about the size of your palm
Wait before having seconds
Before you start eyeing off that second helping, allow 20 minutes for your body to digest what it’s eaten. Chances are your cravings will die down as your body has enough time to feel full and satisfied. It’s also a good idea to stand away from the food, as otherwise you might find yourself mindlessly munching.
Drink in moderation
Alcohol, whilst truly festive, doesn’t offer much when it comes to nutrition. It contains almost twice the amount of kilojoules (energy) of protein and carbohydrate and few nutrients. Regularly consuming alcohol, in large amounts, during the silly season can contribute to unwanted weight gain and is often consumed in place of nutrient rich foods. We’re not saying don’t consume alcohol – let’s be realistic! If you do choose to drink, try to match each drink with a glass of water or soda water. This will also help keep you hydrated, which might help with the hangover! Choose your drinks wisely as some pre mixed drinks can contain the same amount of sugar as a block of chocolate.
Most importantly, have fun! The festive season is about enjoying good company, so make sure you opt to be outdoors and active with your loved ones. Who knows, you might even be able to enjoy an extra glass of wine if you run around enough!