Hooray! It’s nearly Summer, AKA the ‘festive season’, with religious holidays (i.e. Christmas, Chanukka), New Year’s celebrations, and Australia Day. This is the time for giving, relaxing, spending time with family and friends and of course, lots of food.

With family events, parties and BBQ’s running throughout the Summer months, many people find it challenging to stick with their healthy living goals. While no one expects you to go without, there are ways to lessen the damage and keep yourself on track.

Here are some tips we’ve put together to help get you through the festive season:

1.       Make smart food choices where you can
There will be times when you are not in control of what food is on offer (i.e. work parties, meals catered by friends and family, etc). However, you ARE able to plan your food choices every other time – so make the most of this. For example, if you know you have a Christmas party in the evening, make sure you have lean and nutritious meals and snacks during the day, and the following day. You may even choose to have a small, nutritious snack prior to an event, to reduce your appetite.

And remember, in the grand scheme of things, 1-2 ‘indulgent’ meals per week will not unravel your healthy eating goals.

2.       Offer to help with the catering
If you enjoy hosting family and friends, and you are able to do so, why not offer? This way, you can ensure the selection of foods and drinks available include plenty of healthy choices. Alternatively, why not offer to help out the host by bringing a healthy dish, such as a salad, cut-up fruit, or a vegetable platter? This way, there will definitely be something healthy to tuck into. And we’re sure the other guests will appreciate a healthy option!

3.       Eat mindfully
While it’s okay to treat yourself over Christmas, there’s also nothing wrong with saying no to foods or drinks you don’t want, or leaving food on your plate if you’re full. Don’t feel the need to eat or drink ‘just because it’s Christmas’, or to keep up with other party-goers. Eating mindfully also means eating slowly, and enjoying every mouthful. You may find this approach will enhance your experience whilst minimizing excess eating, and the uncomfortable ‘overfull’ feeling that follows!

4.       Keep up regular exercise
Over the festive season, our routine is disrupted and we may be tempted to let our exercise regime slip. It’s important to keep up regular exercise during this time, to balance out any ‘overindulgence’ moments! Fortunately, we have the warm weather and longer daylight hours to motivate us, and get us moving outdoors. Go for an early morning power-walk before work, join an outdoor group fitness class with friends, or do some laps in the pool ‘the day after’ to help you recover!

5.       Watch your alcohol intake

Alcohol is a big contributor of excess kilojoules, AND it can affect your ‘self-control’ – making you twice as likely to overindulge on calorie-rich foods at an event. Our advice? Set yourself an ‘alcohol budget’ per week – the Australian Department of Health recommends a limit of two standard drinks per day, with at least three alcohol free days per week. Alternatively, set yourself an alcohol target per event – a safe number that will allow you to enjoy yourself, without tipping past your ‘self control’ point. Avoid exceeding 4-5 standard drinks!

Lower calorie alcohol choices include a light beer, vodka with soda, gin with diet tonic, whisky with coke zero, or a glass of wine/champagne. Higher calorie choices include cocktails (i.e. espresso martini), liquors (i.e. Baileys) and spirits mixed with juice or regular soft drink.

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