It is hard to believe the festive season is already upon us. I have 6 parties to attend, before we even reach Christmas day. Like you, I will struggle with all the extra food and drink around at this time of the year. So what does that mean for your weight? Several studies looking at people’s weight changes over the festive season, show gains as little as 0.5kg, but up to as much as 4kgs in just 2 weeks. We will all be attending parties and festivities, but what should you eat to enjoy the time while staying healthy?
Celebration foods, such as dips, chips, nuts, soft cheeses, savory crackers, cakes and sweets, can be ok as long as they are eaten in small amounts and not every day. They are ‘sometimes foods’ as they are high in fat, salt and sugar, containing little nutrient value.
The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule when you are at a party, is to try a small amount of everything once, but do not go back for seconds. Overindulging in too many sweet, salty and fatty foods can lead to weight gain, obesity and in the longer term other illnesses including heart disease, diabetes and raised blood pressure.
If you are planning a party remember to have low fat dips – including tzatziki, beetroot and hommus with salad veggies including snow peas, broccoli, carrot and celery, as well as home-made pita chips and fresh fruit platters. All these foods are great sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, fibre and give you long lasting energy, while being lower in fat, salt and sugar compared to processed snacks.
Offer plenty of low sugar and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the event, and encourage people to drink responsibly. A favorite refreshing summer drink of mine is mixing half apple juice with half soda water adding fresh mint, a squeeze of lime juice and plenty of ice.
If you know you will be attending an event, try to have regular meals leading up to and following the party. Including plenty of fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, and salads are great fill up foods and rich in vitamins and minerals. Do not starve yourself all day, so by the time you arrive at the party you want to eat everything in sight.
For example if you are going to a lunch celebration, then ensure you have a high fibre, low fat breakfast, including whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and milk and yoghurt. Enjoy a little bit of everything at the lunch festivities and ensure you follow up with a light healthy snack at dinner ie: salad and lean meats or fish. If you are not too hungry after the party, even some fruit salad and yoghurt is a great option for dinner.
The final thought I want to leave you with is fluids. All of us are made up of around 50-80% water. Water is needed for digestion and absorption of foods, dissolving nutrients, eliminating waste products and regulating our body temperature. As the days get warmer, it is important to keep up your fluid intake, otherwise you can become dehydrated which can lead to problems with regulating your body’s temperature. You may get headaches, find it difficult to concentrate or have bowel issues leading to constipation if you are not drinking enough.
Water is the fluid of choice, though all fluids can count towards your daily intake. Sugary soft drinks and fruit punches are best avoided on a daily basis as they contain a lot of sugar which can lead to dental caries and weight gain. Keep sugary drinks to celebrations only and in small serves.
Adults should drink alcohol in moderation. As drinking too much alcohol can be harmful both in the short and long term. Current recommendations suggest women may safely include one standard alcoholic drink per day, and men can include two. Both men and women should also try to include one or two alcohol-free days per week. When at parties drink responsibly and include non-alcoholic or water spacers between alcoholic drinks.
Have a wonderful time during these seasonal festivities, remember not to over indulge, include some healthier options in your day, drink responsibly and enjoy the time with your family and friends.