Tips and tricks for eating healthy during the holiday season

Although this holiday season will be like no other we have ever had there is still a strong sense of wanting to celebrate. We are looking forward to the holidays with its festive foods and taking time to connect with friends and family, even though we will be forced to do our visiting virtually.

Feasting is a big part of the holidays — cooking more elaborate meals than we normally eat, and taking the time to enjoy them with our family. It is not necessarily about eating more food but more about the time spent together, preparing, sharing, and enjoying seasonal foods that are associated with the holidays, such as mince pies, pecan pie and Christmas pudding.

Unfortunately, instead of feasting in the traditional context, more often than not we simply focus on quantity rather than quality. This means that we often find ourselves having to navigate through the myriad of rich foods, pastries, and drinks which when consumed in large quantities leave us feeling, tired, bloated, and uncomfortable.

So, this week I want to share a few simple tips on how to enjoy the food without feeling that holiday bloat and some ideas for meals so that you can enjoy everything this season has to offer without feeling guilty about what you are eating.

The holiday season means shorter days and I find that brunches are a great option, allowing you to have a good meal before going out and enjoying a winter day’s activity, such as skating, before coming home to an early dinner. Brunches are also the perfect opportunity to combine sweet and savoury dishes, so that everyone can find something they like, including cold cut meats, cheese, fresh bread, and fresh fruit.

Dust off your slow cooker and try out some new recipes or trusted old ones, so that you can sit back and relax knowing that you have a good meal waiting for you in the evening. Another option is to go for one-pan dinners like this chicken drumstick one pan recipe. Single pan meals generally require very little prep work and are easy to make, leaving you time to relax and indulge in your favourite book and television show.

This one pan chicken, grape and veggie bake is great for either lunch or dinner. 

Instead of focusing on the ‘guilt’ of eating too much, turn your attention and look for the seasonal, indulgent food or treats that you do not eat during the rest of the year. You can then thoroughly appreciate the flavours and textures. This also means that you are more likely to eat until you are satisfied, enjoying the moment, instead of eating until you are stuffed, it is about quality over quantity.

A colourful plate is always more appetizing, so mix and match your veggies and fruits on about half of your plate and then leave space for the other foods. This way you can eat to your fill without feeling bloated at the end of the meal.

We also tend to eat foods out of habit rather than because we enjoy and like them, so take the time to look at what you like eating, rather than what the season ‘suggests’ we should be eating. I would rather have a nice roast chicken, with stuffing and all the trimmings, than a turkey, as I find turkey quite bland and hard to cook it ‘just right’.

If you are drinking an alcoholic beverage with your meals and know you will probably indulge, try, and alternate with a glass of water, reducing the amount of ‘empty calories’ you are consuming.

We often tend to skip meals with the idea of having a larger meal later, however, this usually backfires resulting in us feeling ravenous and eating more than we need or want. Instead, consider snacking on some fruit, a piece of cheese or a handful of nuts to keep the hunger at bay. This will avoid you feeling very uncomfortable for the rest of the day.

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