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Tips from a Dietitian: How to Survive the Holiday Season

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With the holiday season fast approaching, sticking to your health and nutrition goals can feel next to impossible! From specialty seasonal coffees to extra treats around the office, and of course those holiday parties taking over your calendar, there's just no escaping it! But believe it or not, you can survive this social season without the burden of those extra pounds come January 1. Here are some tips to help you tackle the common culprits and still enjoy your favorite holiday treats!

Plan Ahead

Don't skip meals to "allow for extra calories later"! While the intention might be good, this will only leave you ravenous and more likely to overindulge. Instead you may want to plan for lighter, healthier meals that day to allow for a little extra indulgence! Think whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins.

Grab a snack before you head out. This will help keep blood sugars stable and decrease your temptation to gorge. Choose something with some fiber and protein for a bit of sustenance (an apple and 1 oz of cheese, a piece of whole grain bread with nut butter or yogurt with a small piece of fruit.

Bring a healthy option. With all the gatherings, there's never a shortage of rich and decadent treats. Balance it out by making your own chips with baked whole wheat pitas and a homemade salsa or bean dip. Add some spice to traditional veggies and dip with roasted mushrooms, peppers, eggplant and zucchini to accompany a homemade tzatziki (tip: no fat Greek yogurt will give you the creaminess you're after without all that extra fat. No one will know the difference!)

Be a Savvy Sipper

Think before you drink. A single rum and eggnog will set you back a whopping 375 calories and 17 grams of fat (1 oz rum, 8 oz eggnog). A glass of red or white wine might be a wiser choice with only about 120 calories per 5 oz glass. If the holidays aren't the holidays without a little eggnog, limit yourself to one or check out the lightened up version in the recipes below!

Be Master Modifier. Tempted to try the latest seasonal coffee drink? Choose skim milk, skip the whip and try it half sweet! This could save you a whopping 300 calories.

Stay Hydrated. Don't forget about good ol' water or sparkling water (add a splash of lemon or cranberry juice for flavour). Our bodies can mistake thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated may help keep us in check at that buffet table.

Enjoy with Awareness

Be Selective. When you're in a situation with endless choices of goodies, choose a small plate or napkin to help manage portion sizes and then take the time to scan your options before you dive in. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to eat it! Skip the ones you could live without and choose a couple you'd still be thinking about tomorrow if they were left behind.

Be mindful. Exactly as it sounds, take your time and be aware of the flavours, textures and aromas as you savour these treats. I guarantee this will leave you more satisfied and less likely to go back for more.

Work the Room. Don't stand by the food and graze, take your plate and find a friend across the room. This will prevent you from eating mindlessly and overindulging.

There's no reason why this eventful season has to be all or none. By being mindful and planning ahead, you'll be able to enjoy your favorite treats and leave those extra pounds in the dust along with that fruit cake you never liked anyway!

Recipes:

Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns with Smoked Paprika

Roasted Cranberry Ricotta and Honey Crostinis

Warm artichoke and bean dip

Spicy Hoisin Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Lightened up Eggnog Cocktail

5 Minute Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

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