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Holiday Eating Tips from a Dietitian

Mini Santas made from sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

The holidays are just around the corner! How are you feeling? Excited? Overwhelmed? Nervous about all of the food?

As a dietitian who loves to eat, I’m sharing 3 tips to help you eat well through the holidays (and beyond)!

Tip #1:  Be picky

There’s probably going to be a lot of different food choices. Tell yourself that you don’t have to eat them all. Do a once over of all the choices available and then be picky about what you put on your plate. Love your uncle’s mashed potatoes? Go for it! Not crazy about your cousin’s quiche? Give it a pass.

Tip #2: Be realistic with your portions

You know the saying – “Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs!” Sometimes, we take more food than we can realistically eat. In my experience, I find that the first three or four bites of a food are AWESOME! And then after that, well, the food becomes a little meh. If a food still tastes awesome after the fourth bite, you can always go back for more. Practice this type of mindfulness to help prevent overeating. Bonus – you’ll reduce food waste too!

Tip #3:  Ditch the diet talk

Ditch the diet talk like “I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to have dessert” or “I’m going to be bad and have another chocolate.” Avoid judging yourself or anyone else for what and how much they’re eating. Instead, build a healthy relationship with food that allows you to honour your hunger / cravings and enjoy food for it’s nourishment, comfort and nostalgia. Our kids, grandkids, nephews and nieces are watching and listening to us. Let’s model healthy behaviours and show them that all foods can be enjoyed without guilt.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy holiday season!

P.S. Here’s the recipe for these cute Strawberry Santas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.)

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