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8 Ways to Get Through the Holiday Eating Fest

Take a deep breath, it’s December! The countdown is on for the holiday parties, cheery celebrations and food fest overload. So what can you do to enjoy the joyous season yet not overindulge? Here are my top eight tips.

1. Give yourself permission to enjoy. First of all, let go of the guilt. Follow the 80-20 rule: 80% of the time, choose the healthy fare; 20% of the time, enjoy your favourite indulgences – in moderation.

2. Be a picky eater. Do a once over of all the choices. In your head, rate each dish as either “I must try this!” or as “I can pass on this today.” Then, take a small portion of your top five “must try” foods, including at least one veggie dish. Go back for seconds only if the food was WOW!

3. Tell a story. You’ve heard that saying, “No talking with your mouth full”? Put it into practice now. Set your fork down, chat with others and tell a story. This slows down your eating and allows time for your brain to register that you’re getting full.

4. Chew your food. Research shows that chewing food up to 40 times before swallowing may actually help you feel fuller and eat less. Alright, this may not apply to that tiny shrimp appetizer, but the point here is to pace yourself and savour every bite rather than wolf down your food.

5. Power on with protein. Eat protein at each meal. You’ll feel full for longer and have sustained energy to keep up with the holiday hustle and bustle. Remember that milk and milk products provide high-quality protein too and can be easily included at brekkie, lunch, dinner, snacks and yes, even desserts! If you’re looking for festive-coloured, protein-packed recipes, try a hearty Lentil Kale and Feta Salad, or this refreshing Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake with Raspberries – both from www.dairygoodness.ca.

6. Eat until you’re 80% full. This is a practice in mindful eating. At 80% full, you don’t feel stuffed and in fact, you could probably eat a few more bites. But you’re no longer hungry and you don’t have to loosen your belt. Over time, you’ll get accustomed to eating to the 80% mark which can be a bonus if you’re watching your waistline.

7. Hold your drink / cocktail in your dominant hand.
This makes it trickier (and messier) to eat with your non-dominant hand while you’re socializing. Stick to Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines: no more than 3 drinks for women and 4 drinks for men on any single occasion. For each alcoholic drink, have a non-alcoholic one.

8. Use smaller plates and glasses. The bigger the plate, the more food we’ll pile on it. Research also shows that we drink more from short, wide glasses rather than tall ones. So use the short glasses for water and save the tall glasses for cocktails and sweetened beverages.

All the best for a happy and healthy holiday season!

(This story, written by Sue Mah, originally appeared in the Toronto Sun, Dec 8, 2017.)

Top 5 Food & Nutrition Trends from FNCE 2018

Sue FNCE expo

One of the best things about my job as a food and nutrition expert is going to conferences to learn about new trends and share our learnings with YOU! This year’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Washington DC did not disappoint! It’s the world’s largest food and nutrition event, attracting well over 10,000 delegates with hundreds of speakers and exhibitors. Here are my top takeaways from the event.

1. FODMAP Friendly. This was by far, the biggest trend at the show. FODMAP is an acronym for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyphenols”. These are different types of carbohydrates found naturally in everyday foods such as fruit, veggies, grains, beans and milk product. For some people, eating foods containing high amounts of these FODMAP carbohydrates may cause gas, bloating and other digestive symptoms. Dozens of products at FNCE sported a “FODMAP Friendly” logo, including Prego’s Sensitive Recipe pasta sauce (made without onions or garlic) and Lo-Fo flours.

fodmap friendly logo

Prego fodmap friendly

fodmap friendly foods

2. Protein Power. I’ve been emphasizing the importance of getting enough protein at every meal for a while now. Protein continues to be a strong nutrition buzzword. This year’s FNCE show featured several protein packed products such as a peanut-based protein shake and a protein enriched pancake mix.

Peanut protein shake

Pancake protein

3. Probiotics. At last year’s FNCE event, exhibitors flaunted countess probiotic products. This year, there were even more innovations ranging from infused probiotic beverages to a combination protein/probiotic hot oatmeal.

probiotic drink

probiotic oatmeal with protein

4. Plant-based. Following this trend were plant-based beverages such as “sesame milk”, “banana milk” and yes, even plant-based maple water. When it comes to calcium, vitamin D and protein though, not all of these products are equivalent to cow’s milk or fortified soy beverage

Sesame milk

banana milk

maple water

5. Snacking. Among the countless numbers of protein bars, I found snacks such as barley bars, flavoured chickpea snacks as well as single serve, shelf stable bean dips for on-the-go energy.

barley bars

chickpea snacks

Black bean portable dip snack

Which one of these trends are you most excited about? Leave a comment and let me know.

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