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Food is a big part of the holiday season and as you’re out celebrating with family and friends, there are bound to be plenty of chances for some festive feasting.
With that in mind, we asked registered dietitian Terry Daley for advice to help you enjoy the holidays without overindulging too much.
BREAK THE BANK
Daley says a big part of eating healthy — especially when presented with a seemingly endless array of tasty treats — is mental and a lot of people believe they can bank calories they didn’t consume throughout the day and use them later at a holiday gathering.
that usually backfires.
“Definitely stick with eating your regular, balanced meals. Some people will try to save up calories if they know they’re going to be eating a big meal later or going to a party. Actually, arriving at the party or meal extremely hungry will cause you to overeat and maybe choose things you may not have if you had eaten regularly throughout the day.”
Christmas wouldn’t be the same if there weren’t pork pies, shortbread cookies shaped like trees and a tin of Quality Street’s imported selection of caramels, cremes and fine pralines.
However, if you look around the buffet table, there are usually healthier, or at least healthy-ish, options.
“Keep that balance. Maybe there’s some vegetable component to it or fruit component to it. Maybe it has a little bit of protein in it as well. You’re never really going to find that ‘treat’ item that is healthy, but trying to balance whatever it is as much as possible, that’s really the best thing to do,” says Daley, who is the in-store dietitian at the Port Hawkesbury Atlantic Superstore. “Maybe it’s chocolate-covered fruit or vegetables and dips. Definitely nuts are a healthy option, too, so there’s always that kind of stuff.”
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
If you’re hosting the party or just making something to bring along, Daley says there are ways “give it a little boost.” The main thing is don’t be afraid to play around with the recipe.
“I know any time I make something, whatever the recipe calls for in terms of sugar, I always cut it by a quarter at least because generally you don’t need that much — it doesn’t change the taste of it. You might even be able to cut it by half and not notice a difference. Maybe it’s in a baked good replacing some of the fat with applesauce or pureed bean or something that could help boost some of the protein as well.”
This Noel noshing tip has more to do with not feeling queasy than taking it easy.
At most gatherings you’ll find a table or countertop teeming with grub. However, things like cheese, dips and deli meats can become contaminated with bacteria if they’re left at room temperature for too long.
“Things that are meant to be refrigerated shouldn’t be out of the fridge for more than two hours. That’s the biggest thing. If it’s been out for more than two hours it probably should go in the garbage,” she says. “It’s more so about a risk factor. People have been doing it forever, having that food sit out and still eat it, and it’s not so much that it’s going to happen every time but if it does happen it can be very serious, so why take the risk.”
ENJOY TO THE WORLD
Daley’s final tip is to relax and enjoy yourself while keeping three simple things in mind.
“Eat when you’re hungry, eat until you’re satisfied, and choose what makes your body and your soul happy, really,” she says.