Healthy eating tips to see you through the festive season

It’s that time of the year when we look forward to breaking away from work to spend time with our families and friends.

This time is typically filled with celebrations, and of course, plenty of food. And while we all deserve that end of year break, you don’t want to enter the new year feeling heavier than you are now. This is a very good time to plan your food intake so that you can still enjoy those delicious festive foods without the resulting discomfort or weight gain.

Dietitian Mbali Mapholi says that this is not the best time to lose weight, not when you have all the delicious festive treats at your disposal. Mapholi says aim at maintaining your current weight – that’s the only mission possible right now.

“Limit your intake of sugary foods as they increase sugar content in your body and make you crave more rich and sugary foods. Skipping breakfast can make you eat more poorly throughout the day. Try to eat a breakfast comprising protein and fibre that will stabilise your blood sugar and keep you going till mid-morning,” she says.

Slender Wonder practitioner at Supreme Aesthetics Dr Anmarie Kok also shares below a few tips.

Don’t skip meals

Skipping meals only makes you hungrier and can lead to binge eating when you are feeling extremely hungry. Rather, if you know you’ll be having a rich meal later in the day, have a smaller, leaner meal before that. Plan and shop ahead so that you have control over what you eat.

Use smaller plates

Mind over matter is a real phenomenon. Smaller plates create the illusion that you have more food in front of you than if the same serving of food was on a dinner plate. Unless you are a master at stacking, you will likely put less food on a smaller plate, also known as forced portion control.

Out of sight, out of mind! Don’t stand near the food table

Dish up for yourself and eat elsewhere. If you stare at the food for longer, chances are that you will eat more.

Keep up your water intake

Ladies should have approximately 2 litres of water per day, while men should aim for approximately 2,5 litres. Water is essential for hydration in the summer heat. Dehydration sometimes presents as hunger. Next time your stomach feels empty between meals, try a glass of water before you immediately eat something.

Avoid appetisers

Nobody needs a full three-course meal. Skipping the appetisers can make a big difference. One chicken wing alone contains approximately 400 KJ and that is before the dipping sauce. Starters are often fried, making them very high in fat.

Don’t arrive at a gathering hungry

Arriving at a special occasion hungry will probably make you eat the first thing you see. Festive food tends to be rich and high in calories. If you eat something small before leaving home, you’ll make better decisions regarding what you eat at the get-together.

Make trade-offs

If you are on a medical weight loss programme like Slender Wonder, you’ll already have guidelines and what to eat and what not to eat. If you are not, a simple way to lower your calorie intake is to allow yourself one “extra” that is added to your main course meal. For example, the bread roll, or the dessert, never both.

Learn to say no

South Africans are social eaters and enjoy sharing a meal. It is perfectly okay to say “no thank you” to a second helping or an extra drink. Prepare mentally for this and you’ll see how easy it is.

Try new recipes

The internet is full of delicious low-calorie recipes and with so many health trends prevailing at the moment, there is no shortage of sugar-free, low fat, or low carb recipes. The festive season is a great time to experiment with cooking healthier options.