5 ways to eat, drink, be merry and still stay healthy

Dietitian Georgia Houston on how you can have your cake and eat it, too.

1. Portion your plate

When plating up your festive breakfast, lunch or dinner, aim for half your plate to be fruit or vegetable based (think fresh salads), one-quarter of your plate to be protein (seafood/turkey/ham) and the remaining quarter whole grains (roasted sweet potatoes).

This way of plating ensures you are filling up on vegetables and leaving less room for other not-so-healthy choices.

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2. Focus on friends and family

Christmas is a time for family and friends, so instead of focusing on food or your weight, try to concentrate on those around you.

On Christmas Day, instead of mindlessly eating seconds, ask those around the table to share what they’re most grateful for this year – all of this will slow down your eating and allow you to register when you’re feeling full.

3. Plan your partying

December in general is a month of parties and indulgences that often last well into the new year. Plan ahead and pick specific events where you will allow yourself to relax around food.

For example, you may choose your work end-of-year party, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve to indulge, while at all the other events, you drink and eat in moderation.

4. Don’t starve yourself

It may be tempting to “save up” your calories during the day if you know you will be indulging later that night.

However, if you arrive at a party ravenous, you’re more likely to eat more than you intended. Instead, focus on having a nutritious breakfast and lunch, and a high-protein snack such as nuts before you arrive.

Eating like this will allow you to feel satisfied and more in control at the party, which will likely lead to healthier food choices.

5. Drink wisely

There’s nothing quite like a yummy cocktail on a scorching-hot summer’s day.

However, when it comes to health and weight, alcohol isn’t your friend. Not only is it high in calories, but the body also can’t store it, meaning it prioritises breaking down alcohol first before other macro- nutrients such as carbohydrates.

Try watering down your wine with soda for a refreshing, low-calorie spritzer, and alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Mindful meal swaps

With Christmas falling in summer, Australians are lucky to be surrounded by delicious, healthy and fresh produce for the holiday. Try to incorporate some of these good-for- you snacks and meals into your menu plan to avoid a festive-season blowout.

Grazing board

  • Vegetable sticks
  • Seasonal berries/stone fruit
  • Nuts/dried fruit
  • Wholegrain crackers
  • Lean meats such as turkey/salmon/chicken
  • Low-fat dips such as tzatziki/hummus
  • Low-fat cheese such as feta/ricotta

Entrée

  • Fresh seafood such as prawns/oysters/scallops
  • Grilled fish/salmon
  • Greek or garden salad

Main

  • Lean meats such as turkey/chicken/fish/salmon
  • Roasted or fresh vegetable salads
  • Mixed grain salads/roasted sweet potatoes

Dessert

  • Fresh fruit platter with quality Greek yoghurt
  • Mini pavlova with seasonal fruit and ricotta
  • Sorbet

Georgia Houston is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, based in Canberra. Find out more about her here.

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