Practical tips for healthy eating this festive season

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with Dee Taylor, Nutritionist

With summer here, maintaining a regular healthy diet can be at risk of sabotage by yummy festive foods that always seem to make an appearance at Christmas social gatherings.
Parties and barbecues don’t have to be the demise of nutritious eating if you are prepared with a few tasty and practical ways to minimize a dietary blowout.

Here are a few simple ideas to keep your healthy eating habits on track whilst you are in the festive season:

1. Eat a small nutritious snack before parties to avoid over indulging in high fat or sugary food due to hunger.

2. Choose vegetable sticks with dips instead of processed biscuits or chips. Make your own dips to take with you to share at the party – get creative with low fat natural yoghurt or reduced fat ricotta combined with fresh herbs and garlic.

3. Make seasonal fruit and vegetable platters instead of sugary treats when asked to bring a plate.

4. Homemade salsa using fresh tomato and herbs are a perfect substitute for sauce on grilled steak, chicken or with steamed fish. Make extra salsa to double as a topper for home made pita chips prepared by slicing and baking wholegrain pita bread in the oven.

5. The BBQ grill can be a haven for fatty foods, try replacing some of your sausages with grilled salmon/fish or even a chicken breast for a healthier tasty option – add chargrilled vegetables to fish or meat skewers and make your own marinades as premade can be high in sugar (fresh lemon, garlic and olive oil with parsley is great over chicken or fish).

6. Steer clear of soft drinks and the fruit punch at parties and opt for water or sparkling water infused with fresh fruits for flavor – add some fresh strawberries, lemon and mint for a zingy treat. – If you choose to drink alcohol watch your serving size – a full wine glass may hold 2-3 serves and you are more likely to nibble on unhealthy snacks whilst drinking alcohol.

7. If ice-cream is your weak point, make your own. Blend fresh fruits and low fat yoghurts and freeze to make a summer treat. This makes a beautiful guilt-free dessert that can also be made into ice-blocks for a post lunch treat.

These are just a few ideas to keep in your Christmas eating in a healthier zone. You will not be at a party everyday of the week so ensure your basic diet remains consistently healthy and balanced. A key point to supporting the maintenance of a nutritious diet and navigating the temptations of the party season is awareness. Ask yourself, “if you are eating from hunger or because it is there?”

Get active and eat healthy foods that give you energy rather than be tempted by empty calories found in sugary and high fat party platters…your post Christmas nutritional health will thank you.