We’re longing for the end of year break and looking forward to all the fun and celebrations with friends and family. There’s no doubt that the time to relax and enjoy ourselves is important to our well-being. But all too often the positive benefits of the holiday are overwhelmed. It is all too easy to over-indulge in rich foods, sweet treats and alcohol. At the same time, we are cutting back on regular physical activity and staying up too late, too often.

Ditching your weight loss or weight management plans, or letting go of your health conscious habits over the festive season stresses both body and mind. Of course, you want to enjoy yourself, and it’s certainly not the time to feel deprived! But you can to avoid the holidays becoming an extended binge by using strategies to moderate the inevitable excesses.

We asked the team at ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) to give us their top tips for how to balance our holiday fun with staying healthy, and here’s what they have to say:

Nathalie Mat, Registered Dietitian – Johannesburg:

“Healthy eating during the holidays might take some thought, but it is really manageable. Having access to healthy food is key. If there is healthy food in your fridge, you will eat it. The same goes when you travel – you do not need to eat every meal out and on the run.   You can buy healthy food and pack meals

or snacks just the same way you would if you were home. Make sure there is an abundance of salads and vegetables at each meal. Serve these onto your plate first, and fill half or more of your plate with them. This will help you to keep the portions of rich meats and roast potatoes small.”

Mpho Tshukudu, Registered Dietitian – Rustenburg:

“Keep your focus on both exercise and sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, especially the dangerous abdominal fat. When you are sleep deprived your energy levels decline. The sleep hormones go out of balance, and the body reacts by urging you to eat more than usual to boost your energy levels. Then we tend to go for the instant fix – coffee with lots of sugar, sweetened energy drinks or a pack of crisps.   When you’re feeling tired and low, you also tend to skip exercise or reduce the intensity and time of physical activity. Have a holiday ‘workout’ regime that ensures you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Play soccer and cricket with your children, take daily walks and get a total body workout with refreshing swims to beat the heat.”

Alex Royal, Registered Dietitian – Cape Town:

“Stay hydrated and drink smart! A little water goes a long way – small sips throughout the day is a smart way to keep well hydrated. Even better, water contains no sugar, no fat and no calories. Boost your fluid intake with whole juicy fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, papaya and cucumber. Alcohol is a double whammy during the holidays.  It tends to weaken your resistance when it comes to eating, and the calories in drinks add up quickly. Rather opt for white wine spritzers with lots of ice or even better, sparkling water with mint and lemon. At celebrations when you don’t want to abstain entirely, make your first drink a sparkling water, and after that avoid drinking two alcoholic drinks in a row.”

Kelly Schreuder, Registered Dietitian – Cape Town:

“Plan your response to temptations. It’s impossible to avoid them entirely, so it’s important to have a clear strategy going in to the festive season. Decide ahead of time what you are happy to avoid versus those foods that are really meaningful to you in some way. Your mom’s famous chocolate mousse might be more important to have as a treat than a packet of chips and an extra alcoholic drink. Write down four or five things that you are going to allow yourself, and say a polite ‘no thank you’ to the rest. When you are hosting, give your guests some healthy options and allow them to serve themselves instead of pushing food on them. Always include lots of vegetables or salads in meals, serve healthy snacks and put a big jug of water on the table at every meal.”

 

The latest ADSA NutritionConfidence recipe is perfect for keeping your health on track this holiday. ‘Poached trout with baby spring vegetables and brown rice salad’ is crips, colourful and a great way to include omega 3 3ssnetial fatty acids. Oily fish – like trout, mackerel, salmon, pilchards, snoek or sardines – should be eaten at least two to three times each week.  Fresh, frozen or tinned are all options to add to your weekly meal plans.

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