The holidays wouldn’t be the same for me without the buttery taste of shortbread (my mom’s, of course), a piece of biscotti with my morning coffee and my favourite chocolate pecan caramel cookie! The holidays bring family and friends together and food is often the focus. Our clients at Calgary Meals on Wheels will be treated to a variety of delicious holiday meals from roast turkey and homemade bread stuffing to our time-honoured Christmas pudding with rum sauce. It’s important to enjoy your traditional food favourites during the holidays as well as maintaining your healthy lifestyle goals you focus on throughout the year. Try these tips to help you and your family have a safe and healthy holiday season enjoying the celebration along with delicious food:
- Maintain balanced meals and snacks throughout the day!
Eat three meals a day, starting with breakfast. Having a small healthy snack between meals may help avoid overeating at the next meal or overindulging on holiday sweets and goodies. Limit the number of appetizers you eat, and choose the smaller size plate when filling your plate at a buffet.
- Keep an eye on the portion size!
It’s often not what you eat, rather the amount you consume. Use Canada’s Food Guide portion sizes as your guide and enjoy special treats in moderation, even chocolate!
- Keep fresh, healthy foods on hand!
- Prepare a selection of fresh, raw veggies and keep them in the fridge along with healthy dips such as hummus and lentil dips or tzatziki made with low-fat yogurt.
- Enjoy colourful, sweet, fresh fruit with breakfast, as an on-the-go snack or as a perfect and refreshing way to end a meal. Baked apples not only taste delicious, but the wonderful aroma as they bake will fill your home.
- Try homemade whole grain pita crisps, naan bread or flatbread crisps instead of salty, higher fat crackers. Serve with fresh fruit and vegetable salsas.
- Serve tossed, mixed green salads with your meals!
- Incorporate “meatless” recipes into your holiday meal planning. Many are chalk full of colourful vegetables, fragrant herbs and spices, legumes and whole grains, boosting your fibre and protein intake.
- Enjoy healthy holiday beverages!
Sparkling water and fruit juice spritzers, low fat eggnog and “virgin” Caesars are great choices in keeping with the season. If you do consume alcohol, do so in moderation and make road safety a priority. Drink water or soda water, garnished with fresh cranberries and a slice of orange, between each drink to pace your intake. Holiday spiced herbal teas and, of course, the occasional mug of hot chocolate, can warm your toes after an outdoor walk!
- Make physical activity part of your holiday fun!
Balance your eating with exercise. Walk to the store or mailbox. Plan a winter afternoon with family or friends, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, skating or a hike combined with a potluck. A winter campfire can’t be beat for family fun!
Dietitians of Canada offers a convenient and easy tool to help you track your eating and activity levels during the holidays (and year-round) to support your personal healthy living goals! Visit the eaTracker website at www.eatracker.ca or install the free eaTracker App on your smartphone.
Enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season!
Adapted from Dietitians of Canada, “Holiday Survival Tips,” 2017