Tips for keeping healthy over the festive season

Now, to the surprise of many of my clients, I actually rarely ever suggest strict portion control at Christmas and New years celebrations. Instead I simply point out tips and tools to use when the fun and festivities start and perhaps a little sprinkle of logic when it comes to counting the ACTUAL days of celebration. The end of year holiday season isn't actually a party every single day/ night, when you really take a look at the holiday break - we are talking about approximately 6 or 7 actual celebration events in total (slightly more or less for some). That's right, and here they are:

1) Christmas party - Work or School Breakups
 2) Christmas Eve 
3) Christmas day
 4) Boxing Day
 5) New years Eve
 6) New Years Day (?)

 So you see, you really don't have to miss out on the fun, instead just approach all the other days as any given "normal routine' day of a typical healthy week, oh... and MOVE more! Burn off all those extras by staying active throughout the day, and limit your TV viewing time (sitting time) to less than 2 hrs per day - and in case you are wondering "Yes" this includes computer sedentary time. 
Here are some easy tips to keep the energy intake moderate while you have a good time over Christmas:

Tip 1. Eat well at home if you are planning to eat out a lot more and consider where you want to spend you "Energy Budget" for the day? Is it going to be Brunch, Lunch or the Evening Meal? Will it be on those sweet foods as snacks/ treats or will it be heavy on the liquid calories??? Aka e.g. Juices or Alcohol. We all have our own baseline or set point for achieving energy balance, so if your energy consumption goes up - so too does your weight. Choose one meal or treat/s and focus on healthy options for the rest of the day e.g. have a light lunch and a healthy breakfast, include a 30min brisk walk - then enjoy your evening meal with a few glasses of wine.

Tip 2. Watch your liquid kilojoules/ calories, this is a mistake so many people make when it is the holiday season. It is just SO EASY to have your entire day's energy requirements in one drinking session with friends - that's before you have even eaten anything at all! Halve your liquid energy content by doing any of the following: Add Soda/ Mineral Water or Low energy soft drinks to you beer or wine e.g. Create a Shandy, or a Spritzer or make your own Punch. Drink berry based cocktails and avoid the creamy ones, Pass on the popular sweet after dinner drinks like Port, Sherry or Baileys. Opt for a 1/2 shot of spirits in low energy mixers (yes - that's not a typo, I did say 1/2 strength shots = 15mls not the full 30ml serve of alcohol). Most importantly, drink 1-2 x glasses of water (make it fancy with lime/lemon wedges and soda) for every alcoholic drink you have 1:1.

Tip 3. Keep healthy food around the house/ workplace and in your visual field at all times - make it interesting by having fruit platters and healthy antipasto plates. Pick low energy highly nutritious foods to eat at meal times - that way you can have more but still keep that figure in check. Here are some of my all time favourites: Seafood - Prawns, Oysters, Crab and Scallops. Did you know that 20 prawns have roughly the same energy content as 4 of the mini yum cha parcels (these are tiny)? Swap the salty high fat crisps for Sakata salt flavoured rice crackers. Slice up watermelon, rock melon and add fresh berries - put this on platters or in single serving bowls Drink spritzers with fresh lemon/ lime. For sweet treats pack the freezer with icy poles, frosty fruits, bulla ice-cream mini's, dark chocolate (70%) and frozen berries.

Tip 4. MOVE more, walk and talk with friends for catch-ups, on top of this include your own 30min training session (walking or other) every day to balance your energy intake with output. Treat the family dog with more regular walks, ride your bike instead of letting it gather dust in the garage. Play some outdoor games with friends and family - a game of cricket or a few water games are always fun on holidays. If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by bush land, the beach or in our case a tropical rain-forest - do some much-needed hiking with friends.

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