Guilt-free holiday eating

How to indulge and avoid the post-holiday bulge

You’ve been good all year, eating healthily and walking regularly. But every holiday, you’re tripped up by tempting sweets and treats. Indulge this season without sabotaging your healthy habits with advice from our experts.

Be a picky eater
“Trying to lose weight during the holiday season is never a good idea,” says Holly Heartz, a dietitian and sports nutritionist from Fredericton, New Brunswick. Instead, follow this simple rule to keep your holiday eating in check: If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. Rather than sample from a so-so cheese tray, save your calories for your favourite festive treats, such as your mother’s prized latkes or your great uncle’s famous eggnog. Another easy way to cut calories: “Limit alcoholic drinks, or alternate them with calorie-free drinks,” advises Heartz.

Get out of sight
Overwhelmed with food at a buffet? Choose no more than two food items to put on your plate, then step away from the table, or even leave the room to avoid temptation, says Heartz. The same goes for cocktail parties and those alluring appetizers: Keep count of how many you’ve eaten and when you’ve hit your maximum allotment, steer clear. If you’re served a plate of food at a restaurant or a catered party, decide how much you’re going to eat before you start munching. Once you’ve finished that amount, ask the waiter to take away your plate, so you’re not tempted to nibble away at the remainder.

Don’t skip meals
Hours before a party, you might be tempted to forego lunch and your afternoon snack, but doing so will cause your blood sugar levels to plumment. And that’s when your body will go into binging mode. Stick with your regular eating habits to stop yourself from overeating, says Kelley Hiltz, a dietitian in Halifax. And if you do misstep, don’t dwell on it, say the experts. Just get right back on track and you’ll sail through the season without gaining a pound.

Enjoy the season
Distract yourself from the pecan pie and shortbread cookies by focusing on the spirit of the season: Join in games, assist your host, mix drinks for other guests, initiate a round of carols or guess what’s under the Christmas tree with the kids. After a large holiday meal, resist the urge to slump down on the couch by stepping outside for a walk – you’ll feel much better afterwards.