Mod­er­a­tion is crit­i­cal to sur­vival in fes­tive sea­son

SHARON NA­TOLI

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - NU­TRI­TION

WITH the fes­tive sea­son upon us, it’s easy to feel a lit­tle worse for wear as your healthy eat­ing and ex­er­cise rou­tine gets pushed aside by a stream of Christ­mas par­ties, restau­rant meals and so­cial catch-ups. But there are things you can do to as part of a Christ­mas sur­vival guide to see you through to the end of 2007 with your health still in­tact.

Cock­tail func­tions can be deadly for overindulging, and of­ten in­volve drink­ing as you ar­rive on an empty stom­ach, rav­en­ous and ready to eat. Drink­ing on an empty stom­ach can also play havoc with your re­solve to say no to tasty deep-fried morsels pass­ing un­der your nose. A light meal be­fore your func­tion will go a long way to­ward damp­en­ing your ap­petite, in­creas­ing your re­solve to con­trol both the type and amount you eat and drink.

Also, en­sure you’re well hy­drated by hav­ing at least three glasses of wa­ter in the af­ter­noon be­fore the func­tion, two dur­ing the evening and an­other one be­fore bed that evening.

Sim­i­lar prin­ci­ples ap­ply to of­fice par­ties. But in this case it’s even more im­por­tant to plan how much you’ll drink be­fore­hand, to en­sure you’ll wake up with your rep­u­ta­tion also in­tact. Drink slowly and talk and dance a lot.

And over-in­dulging comes eas­ily dur­ing restau­rant cel­e­bra­tions, when large por­tions are the norm. When eat­ing out fre­quently, both the type and amount of food need at­ten­tion. Choose grills, dishes with plenty of veg­eta­bles, rice and pasta dishes with toma­to­based sauces and min­imise creamy sauces and deep-fried foods. Most im­por­tantly, man­age the por­tions: choose two en­trees in­stead of an en­tree and main, share desserts, or­der smaller-sized dishes and sup­ple­ment with a side salad or side of ve­g­ies.

But the food you ask for isn’t the end of the story at Christ­mas, when some of the boxes un­der the tree with your name on can them­selves turn out to be gifts of food. It’s the age of re­cy­cling, so if you find your­self with mul­ti­ple boxes of choco­lates, don’t open them. Keep your favourites for a lit­tle in­dul­gence, and re-wrap the rest to pass on.

When it comes to your own gift giv­ing, in­stead of giv­ing the gift of fat and sugar, give the gift of fi­bre and an­tiox­i­dants. Pre­pare home-made healthy treats like choco­late­dipped straw­ber­ries, prunes stuffed with dried apri­cots and al­monds (made deca­dent with a splash of melted dark choco­late), or make up a healthy fruit and nut bas­ket.

Sum­mer’s fresh fruits com­bined with nuts and dried fruits make for stun­ning gifts at this time of year.

And on Christ­mas day it­self, start with a healthy break­fast and de­lay drink­ing al­co­hol un­til at least mid­day. Mix your cham­pagne with orange juice and your wine with soda and choose light beer.

Cook the turkey on a ro­tis­serie or rack and eat the breast, along with plenty of veg­eta­bles roasted in olive oil and flavoured with fresh herbs. Cran­berry sauce with the turkey, ap­ple sauce with the pork and mint sauce with the lamb are all good choices for flavour — but limit the cheesy, creamy sauces and gravies.

Avoid pick­ing on the lol­lies and sweets adorn­ing the Christ­mas tree but en­joy a slice of fruit cake or Christ­mas pud­ding for dessert as it’s a great source of fi­bre and an­tiox­i­dants. Walk in the af­ter­noon, and the next day, and into 2008!

Most of all, en­joy the com­pany of fam­ily and friends as you cel­e­brate and re­flect on the year that’s been. Sharon Na­toli is an ac­cred­ited di­eti­tian and di­rec­tor of Food & Nu­tri­tion Aus­tralia.

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