H ow prepared are you to survive the holiday season? For most of us, Christmas is a time for celebrations, parties and festivities that all involve eating and drinking.

During this time of the year healthy eating flies out of the window. Even those who are usually moderate and careful eaters are tempted to join the festivities. We tend to conveniently forget about our health and diet, and instead, take the opportunity to over-indulge in every way possible.

The holidays are a time for us to gather with family and friends to celebrate. For better or worse, with celebration comes food.

Bad Habits during the Christmas Season

It is not hard to understand why people fall into such bad habits during the Christmas season. Just look at all the advertising on television or in the newspapers and magazines. Even the radio joins in dangling temptation over the airways.

Everywhere you go there is somebody waiting to thrust a glass of wine or some beer or a box of chocolates in front of you.

How can you refuse? And, anyway, it is the holidays… Your trip to the local supermarket turns into an adventure. You find yourself surrounded by displays of colourful, tempting goodies that are excitingly packaged and screaming at you to buy them and eat them.

Even visits to friends and family are not that safe. You suddenly find the table laden with all manner of treats, even in the homes of people who don’t pay much attention to holidays.

And of course many people are on leave from work this time of the year.

Food and Festivity

We know that food and festivity will always be a major part of the holiday season – and there is certainly nothing wrong in that.

Here are a few tips to enjoy healthy eating (and drinking) over the Festive Season with family and friends:

  • Be the designated driver. When you are out with friends, volunteer to stay sober and to be the driver. Have one alcoholic drink (make it something you really enjoy) and, for the rest of the evening, choose drinks such as sparkling water, cola or fruit juice.
  • If you buy ready-made appetizers for a party, read the nutritional information for the lowest-calorie, lowest-fat choices.
  • Help your guests eat better. At your own party, put out smaller plates (we tend to fill larger plates with more food). Serve snacks from smaller dishes. At a dinner party, pre-portion food rather than having guests serve themselves.
  • Prepare yourself before the party. One of the biggest mistakes you can make before heading to a party is to skip a meal or arrive hungry. By eating a light, healthy snack before leaving your own house, you can set yourself up to make better choices.
  • Alcohol adds extra unwanted calories and, if too much is consumed, it lowers inhibitions, which can lead to overeating. Pay attention to what you drink.
  • You need to keep physically active, maybe now more than ever. Physical activity reduces stress and gives us more energy – and helps burn all those unwanted kilojoules.

The holiday season is for celebrating with family and friends. If you must “open the throttle” for one, two, or even three days during the holiday season, then that really is not going to be that much of a disaster.

Let guilt also have a holiday. If you overeat, don’t worry; you’ll have lots of time in the new year to get back on track. And remember to take care of yourself. Eat smart, stay active, get enough sleep and enjoy a healthy holiday.

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