As we approach the holidays, we all look forward to the celebrations with family and friends. Present time is little different with Covid-19 as our guest of the season. While following all restrictions, we can still enjoy and party with food. Now that makes everyone wonder enjoying with food? What about staying healthy?
Thinking about festivals and holiday season food, the first thought that comes to our mind is food high in calories, fat and sugar. With a little planning, I assure you that we can still enjoy our holiday celebrations while making healthy food choices and staying healthy!!
The following strategies can help in keeping you healthy during the holidays:
- Stay active:
Our holiday routine should include physical activities with family such as walking, skating, biking or hiking. Staying active during the holidays, even if it is only for 15 minutes a day, can help our body to remain fit and healthy. Physical activities are also an excellent way to spend some fun time with family. Being active can also make up for having more food during celebrations.
- Follow the rules of mindful eating:
Though traditional celebrations like partying with extended family and friends are not recommended this year and we all will be celebrating at home, we still need to be mindful of our eating habits. We should remember that we all need to take time to eat and enjoy our meals. We should focus on what we are eating and have limited distractions during meal time. Furthermore, it is recommended to pay attention to our food choices. Healthy foods and drinks should find a place in our meal planning. Binge eating and munching on high calorie snacks should be avoided.
While serving food for oneself, we should start with smaller portions and then listen to our body signals that indicate hunger and fullness. We should eat when we feel hungry and stop eating as soon as we feel full.
- Making healthier food choices:
We should try to stick to healthier food options such as whole grain foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Food items and dishes prepared with these ingredients make healthy food choices. We should limit the consumption of highly processed foods as they are very high in calories, fat and sodium. They should be chosen in small quantities just to satisfy the taste buds.
Modify recipes for preparing healthy snacks and desserts such as using natural fruits or honey for sweetness instead of refined sugar, replacing refined flour with whole grains and cereals and incorporating nuts and seeds.
While ordering food from outside, if the meals are available in large portions, we should share it with someone or save it for the next meal. This will prevent us from over-indulging or food wastage.
- Eating in a healthy plate:
The healthy plate model of the Canada’s Food Guide can continue to help you enjoy holiday foods without any guilt and stress.
Half of the plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits. These high fibre foods are low in calories and can help to keep us feel full for a longer time.
One fourth of the plate should be filled with whole grains and cereals.
Meat or meat alternatives should take a place in the rest of the one fourth plate. Healthy meat choices include fish, lean poultry, lean cuts of meat and other alternatives such as beans, lentils and soy.
- Shrink the drink:
Drinks contribute to extra calories, sodium, sugar and fat in our diet. We should try to limit the alcohol. Having carbonated or sparkling water with natural fruit flavours can serve as an ideal replacement for alcoholic beverages.
Water can be the drink of choice. It can be infused with flavours from fresh cucumbers, berries, oranges, lemon or mint for making some excellent refreshing beverages. Plain coffee or tea can also serve as a drink to beat the cold this holiday season.
If we still need to enjoy some alcoholic beverages, choose low calorie light beer or sprint. Alcoholic drinks can be mixed with diet pops or low sodium club soda to reduce the calories. We should take time to enjoy every sip of the drinks to shrink the quantity we consume.
Lastly, remember that a few moments of over-indulgence will not make us unhealthy. The most important thing is to have some quality time with your loved ones. This festive season lets all be active, eat well, stay safe and make wonderful memories that we can cherish for life time.