Guilt-free Christmas eating

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Kelly Pelham is a New Zealand-registered dietitian and sports nutrition educator. As a fanatical foodie with a passion for health and nutrition, dietetics was the perfect path, she says. Based at Three Rivers Medical, Kelly is committed to helping people accomplish their nutrition, health or sporting goals.

THERE'S nothing wrong with overeating on Christmas Day, right? Surely this one occasion is not going to be the end-all to your health and weight-watching?

This line of thinking may be true in some respects but unfortunately, and you may already be experiencing this, Christmas Day can turn into Christmas “month”! What with work functions, social occasions and festive activities, the extra food and drink all starts adding up and belt notches begin to loosen. But this year is going to be different. With a few simple tricks you can still enjoy Christmas guilt-free.

1. Start the day the right way

Keep breakfast fresh and light, especially on Christmas Day. Include protein foods such as eggs, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds to keep satisfied and prevent unnecessary grazing. Some favourites include:

■ Eggs and spinach on wholegrain toast

■ Fresh fruit salad with Greek yoghurt

■ Home-made muesli with oats, fruit, nuts and seeds and low-fat milk.

2. Move more, sit less

Start Christmas Day energised by getting the whole family out and about. Walk up Kaiti Hill, cycle, swim or play a game of beach rugby. If you are serious about getting into shape, the summer holiday is a great time to start getting into a good exercise routine. Find something you enjoy so you continue to exercise once normality kicks back in.

3. Plan ahead

Christmas organising can be a hectic time. Forgetting to eat is easy until “bear hunger” sets in and you’re grabbing anything and everything. Unfortunately these tend to be high-calorie, nutrient-poor, convenient options. Your emergency snack pack, kept in a mini cooler bag, solves that problem with a few of these goodies:

■ Fruit

■ Mixed nuts

■ Cheese and crackers

■ Leftover vegetables — corn, potato, kumara

■ Greek yogurt with berries or fruit

■ Vegetable sticks with hummus or cottage cheese

■ Mini savoury muffins

■ Plain popcorn.

4. Go for quality not quantity

The more variety and flavours, the more likely you are going to overeat. If it’s your turn to host, simplify the menu with a few wow-factor dishes. If you’re a guest or at a buffet, choose a couple of dishes you like the look of best. It’s OK to not have everything provided. Truly, it is.

5. Mindful eating

What you eat is only half the story. Research shows how you eat also plays an important role. Mindful eaters, who are aware of their entire food experiences, are present in the moment and use all their senses, tend to have lower body weights, a greater sense of well-being, and are less likely to have eating disorders. Try a few of these:

■ Ask yourself, “am I hungry?” If the answer is yes, “what do I feel like?”

■ If no, “why am I wanting/craving food?”

■ How much do I need?

■ Eat slowly, distraction-free and savour the sight, smell, texture and taste

■ Are you truly enjoying what you’re eating?

■ How do you feel after eating?

6. Portion control

It’s your turn to dish up. Start filling your plate with colourful vegetables first. Then take a fist-size serving of potato salad, a palm size of roast turkey and a dash of cranberry sauce on the side. Now that’s portion control!

7. Re-think that drink

Three 180ml glasses of wine is the equivalent to eating 6.7 slices of bread! That’s a lot of extra calories. What’s more, unhealthy food choices are generally made after a few too many.

Fizzy drinks are no better. You may as well be pouring spoonsful of sugar into your body.

Reduce unnecessary calories by:

■ Alternating alcohol with water

■ Enhancing the appeal of water by serving it chilled or with lemon, orange, cucumber slices or mint

■ Try ¼ juice to ¾ soda water for a lower-sugar fizz drink.

At the end of the day, you still want to enjoy Christmas but without feeling like a stuffed turkey.

THERE'S nothing wrong with overeating on Christmas Day, right? Surely this one occasion is not going to be the end-all to your health and weight-watching?

This line of thinking may be true in some respects but unfortunately, and you may already be experiencing this, Christmas Day can turn into Christmas “month”! What with work functions, social occasions and festive activities, the extra food and drink all starts adding up and belt notches begin to loosen. But this year is going to be different. With a few simple tricks you can still enjoy Christmas guilt-free.

1. Start the day the right way

Keep breakfast fresh and light, especially on Christmas Day. Include protein foods such as eggs, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds to keep satisfied and prevent unnecessary grazing. Some favourites include:

■ Eggs and spinach on wholegrain toast

■ Fresh fruit salad with Greek yoghurt

■ Home-made muesli with oats, fruit, nuts and seeds and low-fat milk.

2. Move more, sit less

Start Christmas Day energised by getting the whole family out and about. Walk up Kaiti Hill, cycle, swim or play a game of beach rugby. If you are serious about getting into shape, the summer holiday is a great time to start getting into a good exercise routine. Find something you enjoy so you continue to exercise once normality kicks back in.

3. Plan ahead

Christmas organising can be a hectic time. Forgetting to eat is easy until “bear hunger” sets in and you’re grabbing anything and everything. Unfortunately these tend to be high-calorie, nutrient-poor, convenient options. Your emergency snack pack, kept in a mini cooler bag, solves that problem with a few of these goodies:

■ Fruit

■ Mixed nuts

■ Cheese and crackers

■ Leftover vegetables — corn, potato, kumara

■ Greek yogurt with berries or fruit

■ Vegetable sticks with hummus or cottage cheese

■ Mini savoury muffins

■ Plain popcorn.

4. Go for quality not quantity

The more variety and flavours, the more likely you are going to overeat. If it’s your turn to host, simplify the menu with a few wow-factor dishes. If you’re a guest or at a buffet, choose a couple of dishes you like the look of best. It’s OK to not have everything provided. Truly, it is.

5. Mindful eating

What you eat is only half the story. Research shows how you eat also plays an important role. Mindful eaters, who are aware of their entire food experiences, are present in the moment and use all their senses, tend to have lower body weights, a greater sense of well-being, and are less likely to have eating disorders. Try a few of these:

■ Ask yourself, “am I hungry?” If the answer is yes, “what do I feel like?”

■ If no, “why am I wanting/craving food?”

■ How much do I need?

■ Eat slowly, distraction-free and savour the sight, smell, texture and taste

■ Are you truly enjoying what you’re eating?

■ How do you feel after eating?

6. Portion control

It’s your turn to dish up. Start filling your plate with colourful vegetables first. Then take a fist-size serving of potato salad, a palm size of roast turkey and a dash of cranberry sauce on the side. Now that’s portion control!

7. Re-think that drink

Three 180ml glasses of wine is the equivalent to eating 6.7 slices of bread! That’s a lot of extra calories. What’s more, unhealthy food choices are generally made after a few too many.

Fizzy drinks are no better. You may as well be pouring spoonsful of sugar into your body.

Reduce unnecessary calories by:

■ Alternating alcohol with water

■ Enhancing the appeal of water by serving it chilled or with lemon, orange, cucumber slices or mint

■ Try ¼ juice to ¾ soda water for a lower-sugar fizz drink.

At the end of the day, you still want to enjoy Christmas but without feeling like a stuffed turkey.

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