How to keep the holidays healthy

Dance away those visions of sugar plums

Like many others before me, I’ve made a commitment to myself not to overindulge during the holiday
season. Yet this time of year seems to offer endless bounties of foods that are hard to resist: sugar plums and latkas are everywhere, just waiting to tempt. And with lots of social gatherings centered around eating, it’s difficult to avoid engaging in a hardcore binge fest every time you attend a holiday get-together.

The key is to enjoy holiday food without blowing your diet and having to make “lose weight” your
New Year’s resolution. Using The Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating, you can enjoy the culinary delights the season has to offer without totally destroying your commitment to a healthy diet.

Enjoy a variety of foods: This doesn’t mean you should eat everything in sight at the holiday buffet table. Rather, at each gathering you go to, pick one or two small portions of a treat, and leave it at that. With this strategy, you won’t go too far over your daily calorie budget, but over the season you will get to sample a wide variety of your favourite holiday foods.

Emphasize cereals, breads, other grain products, vegetables and fruit: Yes, pie crust is made out of grains. And that crust is full of fruit. But proceed with caution: pie is generally full of saturated fat, sugar and calories. At holiday parties, always look out for veggie, fruit and bread platters. Fill up on nutrient-rich veggies, fruit and whole grain bread, and you won’t have room in your belly for that pie.

Choose lower-fat dairy products, leaner meats and food prepared with little or no fat: You’re taking a chance in assuming that your friends and family will serve low-fat versions of meat, cheese and holiday sweets at their parties. In this instance, bring along a low-fat version of a holiday staple, such as light eggnog, or low fat cheese with whole grain pitas as a host gift. Choose turkey over roast beef or ham to limit saturated fat intake at the dinner table, and pick shrimp over cocktail wieners at the appetizer tray to avoid high calorie snacking. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight by enjoying regular physical activity:
Many health columns I’ve read over the years suggest getting the family together in a setting without food, or to take a walk together after the holiday feast. While that sounds like a good idea at the time, my family tradition consists of congregating around a big slab of meat and sitting around the TV with belts undone after the feast.

Old habits die hard, so if your family is anything like mine, you can forget this advice. I’ve found that it is much more effective to set personal fitness goals during the holidays as opposed to relying on friends and family for motivation. Make sure you get 30 minutes of physical activity daily to ward off stress and food cravings during the holiday season. This can be achieved by braving the holiday crowds at the mall, going for a walk on a brisk winter morning, or busting a move at all the parties
you attend.

If you do anything this season, remember that the key to holiday eating is to exercise the principle
of moderation. Enjoy some of your favourite holiday goodies during this festive time, but limit portions
and choose healthier versions whenever possible. Your body and mind will thank you in the long run.

Overheard in Kingston

Arts student 1: “At first I thought
that thing in the ILC was a B.O.
wall. As in body odour? And I
thought it was like the plants
suck up body odour and then
put out good smells.”

Arts student 2: “It kind of
sounds like bio, I guess. And
it does basically the same
thing, right?”

—At Clergy and Earl Streets.

“I didn’t take a fifth year just
so I could have a drinking
problem.”

—Girl desperately trying to regain control of her life.

“I’ve taken to playing video
games for 20 hours a day in
Ottawa.”

—Man in line talking to a coffee shop employee.

“The only thing that could be
more embarrassing is trying
to get through those outside
doors at the Tea Room. You
know the ones that are locked?
I hate that.”

—Guy on cellphone, walking down Union Street.

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