Survive the Festive Feasting
Whether it’s a nice restaurant, a special family celebration or a party with friends, we all take pleasure in eating out and enjoying a meal with others, particularly at this time of the year. But with these occasions often comes the temptation of foods which are high in fat, sugar and energy and which are served in amounts much larger than we need, particularly if we’re watching what we eat for weight or health reasons.
So how can you indulge yourself without going overboard?
- Watch your portion sizes. Aim to have a little of what you enjoy without overeating. Portion sizes served in a restaurant are often much larger than you would serve yourself at home and are certainly larger than recommended serving sizes. There’s also evidence that most people eat more in the company of others than they do when eating alone.
- Don’t ‘save up’. Avoid missing meals before going to a party or restaurant to ‘save up’ as this is bound to lead to overeating due to being hungry. If you feel hungry before going out have a small snack such as a piece of fruit or small handful of raw nuts to tide you over and help avoid overindulging when you’re out.
- Stop when you’re satisfied. If you’re enjoying a meal (and have paid good money for it!) it’s tempting to clean your plate, even if it’s more than you need. To avoid this, once you’re full, ask the waiter to take your plate away so you aren’t tempted to keep eating.
- Choose sensibly. There are always healthier menu choices available, particularly as restaurants are becoming increasingly aware of the need to provide customers with healthy options. If you can’t see healthy choices on the menu don’t be afraid to make requests such as asking for a creamy sauce or dressing to be served on the side, or for your meal to be grilled rather than fried.
- Savour, don’t stuff – choose foods that will really satisfy your tastebuds rather than ordering something that appears to be good value for the price.
- Bring a plate. When visiting friends or family for a meal, you could ensure that there are some healthy options by offering to take an entrée, salad or dessert. Hummus and raw vegetables, a fresh salad, a nice loaf of sourdough bread or a bowl of fresh berries are good choices which will be enjoyed by everyone.
- Consider your fluids. Many people think about what they eat but forget that what they drink on special occasions can really add up. Try to limit the amount of high energy drinks such as alcohol and soft drinks – not only are they high in sugar, but alcohol can also increase your appetite. If you drink alcohol, alternate alcoholic drinks with mineral water or soda water and limit your overall intake. For more tips on reducing alcohol intake see Rethinking Drinking http://nnd.com.au/2016/07/09/rethinking-drinking/
- Enjoy the company. Eating out is a great time to enjoy the company of friends and family so don’t rush through your meal – relax and take your time to eat and enjoy your food. And remember that social occasions don’t have to be all about food – instead of a meal out could you organize to meet a friend for a walk on the beach, or plan a family cricket match?
- Eat well the rest of the time. As long as the majority of your diet is healthy, the occasional indulgence is unlikely to be a problem. If you do overdo it on occasions, just get back to eating healthily at the next meal. One naughty meal (or even a few) are unlikely to do much harm, it’s when you let a few unhealthy choices get you off track that it becomes a problem.
- Keep active. This can be a time of year when good exercise habits fall apart but it doesn’t have to be. Keeping active can help to manage stress and to balance out the effect of those extra eating indulgences. Even if time is short, there are plenty of ways to incorporate more activity and it all adds up. Catch up with friends for a walk rather than a coffee, organise a game of cricket or touch football with friends and family rather than sitting around after a big lunch, park further from the shops and take the stairs rather than the escalators when shopping, take an evening walk with the kids to see the neighbourhood Christmas lights or put on your favourite music and get a good workout cleaning the house in preparation for visitors. And if you are on holidays, make good use of this time and take part in some activities you enjoy, including those you may not have time for during the working week such as an early morning walk.
- Re-think your goals. If you’re trying to lose weight but realise it will be difficult over the coming month, aim to maintain and not gain weight, rather than focusing on weight loss. This is a more realistic goal and means you won’t be starting the New Year with a few extra kilograms to lose.
The NND Team hopes you find these tips helpful and would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year!