Keeping well after (too much of) the festive season

Eating healthy can be a festive challenge. Photo: iStock

Eating healthy can be a festive challenge. Photo: iStock

Let’s face it. With so much delicious food on offer during Christmas, it’s hard not to overindulge and throw caution to the wind with your diet. But never fear, Marisa Nastasi, an Accredited Dietician from Melbourne’s Baker Diabetes and Heart Institute, says there are things you can do so your festive season is (a little) healthier.

Is there a way to eat healthier over the Christmas break?

Marisa says over the Christmas period people tend to do more snacking and grazing. “[We] eat larger portions or multiple courses including desserts, drink more alcohol and are less physically active – these tend to be the greatest issues causing people to gain weight.”

She recommends:

  • Eating one course meals, and using smaller plates over this time;
  • Prioritising vegetables and lean protein such as chicken breast/turkey/pork/fish rather than processed meats;
  • Minimising alcohol consumption. Try and choose lower calorie options such as spirits with diet mixers or alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soda water;
  • Making Christmas a time to stay active with family and friends. Trying a game backyard cricket or taking a walk after a big meal like Christmas lunch – play hide and seek with children and limit the time you’re not moving (like watching TV).
Have lots of greens on your plate. Photo: pexels.com

Have lots of greens on your plate. Photo: pexels.com

 

What about alcohol?

Marisa says alcohol can definitely make you gain weight. “One glass of wine or beer alone makes up around 6% of the daily energy intake of an average person,” she says. “The best way around this is to avoid excessive consumption in general and choose lower calorie options such as spirits with diet mixers e.g. Gin and Soda.

“Where possible, alternate alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, providing they are not full of sugar.”

Try to reduce your intake of:

  • Heavy beers;
  • Punch and cocktails;
  • Cider;
  • Fortified/dessert wines.
Mixing drinks with soda water can be a good way to reduce calories. Photo: pexels.com

Mixing drinks with soda water can be a good way to reduce calories. Photo: pexels.com

What if I overindulge?

If you overindulge over Christmas “don’t worry,” says Marisa. “The best thing to do is pre-plan to get back to your usual routine.”

  • Ensure you stick to 3 main meals that are balanced, with vegetables (1/2 plate), lean protein (1/4 plate) and wholegrains (1/4 plate);
  • Don’t skip meals or try and starve as this will impact your metabolism;
  • Try and include some meaningful exercise each day aiming for at least 30 minutes;
  • Avoid takeaway foods where possible as these can often be higher calorie options;
  • Try and detox from alcohol and soft drinks/ fruit drinks and include water through the day.

“Don’t forget to have fun, and remember being healthy is a way of life, but we all have a moment of weakness, especially around this time of the year.

“So long as you plan ahead and keep to a routine, weight gain can be minimised over this period.”

 

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