Holiday lights

By Nicole Fetterly, RD
Your Campus Dietitian

The holiday season is a time of fun, family, friends and of course food! But for many people a few weeks of indulgences can lead to a January feeling of bloat, excess weight and overall unhealthiness. This doesn’t have to happen to you! Here are a few tips to ensure you have fun but remain healthy during the season.

1. Stay active.

Socializing doesn’t have to only involve sitting around a table of treats with egg nog in hand. Enjoy someone’s company (or perhaps a break from company!) by getting outside for a winter activity from skating to skiing to simply a walk around the block to look at the lights. This is especially beneficial to your body after a big meal to help you burn off some of the calories for immediate energy. Try to set an activity goal every day, even if it’s just a dance party whilst doing the endless pile of dishes.

2. Make it count.

Choose your favourites or foods that you only get at this time of year. You don’t have to try every single item on the table, or if you do, just have a small portion. There are always more favourites around the corner.

3. I second that!

Actually it’s smarter not to. We all tend to eat too quickly which doesn’t allow our bodies to register that we’re full before we get a second helping. Before going for seconds, sit for 5 minutes and allow your body time to digest and to process that you’ve had enough. Plus you might need to save room for dessert.

4. Half your plate.

Even during the holidays, you should still focus on eating your veggies at every meal. At an appetizer party, rather than graze, fill a plate and load half of it from the veggie platter. For your traditional Christmas dinner, make sure there are as many vegetable side dishes as meat and starches…think roasted roots, braised brussels, steamed green beans, squash soup, curried cauliflower or cabbage slaw. Consider starting your day with a smoothie to get all of your fruit and a couple of veggie servings under your belt (a favourite combo: strawberry, mango, avocado, cucumber and swiss chard). All the potassium from the veggies and fruit help to balance the high sodium intake from the baking, sauces and cheese.

5. Fill up on fluids.

Don’t mistake hunger for thirst—our body’s mechanism for indicating thirst is a bit flawed. Strike a balance—for every fun beverage, whether eggnog, hot chocolate or mulled wine, have a large glass of water. And that can be fun too—make it hot with lemon or herbal tea or sparkling and add colourful cranberries or fresh herbs.

If you do indulge or laze around more than you intended, do a cleansing week in January where you focus your diet on veggies and fruit, whole intact grains, legumes, fish and eggs and lots of fresh herbs, garlic, ginger and chilis. Avoid processed grains (e.g. bread, pasta, crackers, cereal), red meat, dairy, alcohol, coffee, sugar and all manner of sauces.

Hungry for more knowledge? Check out Nicole’s blog at www.uvic.ca/food