The majority of Australians are now on break or have finished their schooling. They’re ready to indulge in delicious foods, drinks, and parties during Christmas, New Year, and other festive occasions.
While special occasion food and treats can be a fun way to add variety to our diets and enjoy them, many of us are eating badly on a regular basis. Australian adults consume 17 or more servings of alcohol, chocolate, sugary drinks, cakes, biscuits, processed foods, and savory snacks like crisps each week.
Australians eat only 25, 29 or 30 of the 35 servings of vegetables per week that are recommended for adults. Half a cup or one cup is considered a serve.
How can I eat healthier at Christmas?
It’s important to plan ahead for periods of dietary excess, regardless of how healthy you are. Here are 10 tips to survive the festive season for better health based on what we understand about Australian eating habits.
- Plan your drinks
Alcohol is high in kilojoules. (1 calorie = 4.22 kilojoules). Set yourself a limit of alcohol before you arrive at a social event or party. Alternate between water, diet soft drinks or soda water. Switch to water or diet soft drinks instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Eat before you party
Arriving hungry to an event that offers cocktail food can be a big mistake. It’s hard to resist the temptation to stuff your face with delicious treats!
Eat a healthy breakfast before you go. It would help if you aimed to eat a lot of vegetables or salad, a little lean protein (meat or chicken), and a side of whole-grain carbs (for example, half a cup of cooked brown rice). Dietary protein keeps us fuller for longer.
Not all canapes have the same taste. Choose lean proteins if you will be at the party. These include meatballs, prawns, or thin meat skewers. You can also choose sushi, cold rolls, frittata, etc. Avoid fried or pastry-based snacks.
- Use a plate strategy.
When eating finger food, it’s hard to track how much you eat. When grazing, choose vegetable sticks over crackers and dips based on vegetables.
If you love cheese, cut it thinly and focus on the quality, not quantity. The content of cheese is high.
Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They also contain a lot of fiber. namoscato/flickr, CC BY
- Two courses are enough
You don’t have to sacrifice delicious food when dining at a restaurant.
Limiting yourself to just one or two courses is a simple way to avoid a kilojoule overdose. For example, entree and main, mains with a side salad, and main and dessert.
- Focus on lean proteins plus vegetables.
Choose main meals with lean proteins and vegetables or salads instead of heavy carbohydrate dishes like pasta, rice, and pizza.
You can eat just one-half of the bun when you’re eating a big serving of burgers.
Avoid deep-fried foods such as calamari fi, sh battered, or wedges. Some curries contain hidden fats or kilojoules.
- Choose between raw and steamed side dishes.
If you want to order side dishes, choose steamed or raw vegetables instead of fried wedges, chips, or mashed potatoes. Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. They also contain a lot of fiber, which will keep you full, but they have very few calories.
Regular consumption of vegetables is linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. Load half of your plate with salads or vegetables in varying colors.