This is the time of year filled with work banquets, family gatherings, and other get-togethers right through to the new year, with food a huge focus at most of those events.
Jody Chanel, a registered dietician with Southern Health-Santé Sud, says it is possible to eat holiday meals and all treats without sacrificing your health. She says it's all about balance and being mindful. "Being mindful is paying attention to the amount and types of food you're eating throughout the party."
Chanel suggests paying attention to when you are no longer hungry, and if you're finding there are just too many options, skip the food you can have any time of the year.
If you know you have an event coming up, Chanel encourages to have healthy meals between those events and to try and keep treats out of your house. She says that will help provide the balance you need for when you do indulge at an event. "Just as important, try to exercise when you can, because exercise is beneficial for your health and for managing stress, and that also provides the balance."
Chanel says along with the food, it's also important to be mindful of what you sip on. "Remember that sugary, creamy, and alcoholic beverages provide calories without filling you up." Chanel adds because alcohol affects your judgment that can make it difficult to be mindful and aware of what you're eating and drinking. "Just make sure that you're having water in between or throughout the event."
For general healthy eating, it's encouraged to follow the Eat Well Plate model, which is filling half your plate with vegetables, quarter grains, and a quarter protein, preferably on a 9-inch plate. Chanel says this strategy can also be used at events to keep your plate and overall intake balanced.
When at a party or gathering with a lot of food, it's important not to graze, "so you're going to fill a plate and then eat slowly and listen to your hunger and satiety cues," says Chanel. When you're full, if possible, try to stand away from the food area, so it's not constantly in eyesight and arm's reach.
Following these tips, and being mindful about what you're eating through the many holiday events, Chanel says it will help you avoid the guilt about over-eating that often comes when the new year hits. "And you'll feel better right of the hop."
If you're looking to make any health behaviour changes in the new year, Chanel encourages to decide on a main goal, and focus on small actions to achieve that main goal. She says examples of small actions are things like deciding to have a glass of water every hour, having a half plate of vegetables at each meal, or walking 10 minutes per day.
Chanel says once your first change has become your regular behaviour, then add another small attainable goal. "Remember that making changes that are too big, or too many changes at one time can be overwhelming and often leads to a regress of the lifestyle from before."