Moderation is critical to survival in festive season
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.