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St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

How to stay healthy over the holidays


The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, full of friends and family and lots of delicious food. For many of us though, the change in schedule can throw us off, which can impact how we’re eating and feeling. To keep us healthy and energized, we asked Melissa Murray, registered dietitian in our Family Medicine Team, for tips we can follow over the holidays. Here’s what she recommended:

Tip #1: Eat something before going to parties/celebrations, so you’re not starving upon arrival.
Even though you might be anticipating a huge turkey dinner, continue to eat regularly throughout the day. Following a normal meal schedule will keep your blood sugar at a steady level so that you’re not tempted to eat seconds… and thirds… and maybe even fourths.

Tip #2: Bring a healthy option to potlucks.
Potlucks are an opportunity to try many different foods – however we tend to eat more than we normally would, and the options can be indulgent. By bringing a healthy option like a salad or fruit, you ensure there’s something lighter to eat to balance out the casseroles and desserts.

Tip #3: Stay active: try new winter activities: skating, skiing, tobogganing, etc.
Holiday activities often revolve around food/drink, and it can be easy to forget about our normal exercise routines. Take advantage of the many free outdoor rinks in Toronto and engage your family/friends in a different way this holiday season. Exercise is important for our immune systems and our mental health – getting our blood pumping and fresh air in our body helps to keep us healthy.

Tip #4: Watch liquid calories: try wine spritzers or alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Spiked eggnog might be delicious but it can also pack more calories than a dessert square. Keep alcoholic drinks in mind when thinking about what you’re consuming. For best bets, drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage to help keep you satisfied and hydrated.

Tip #5: Keep healthy snacks at work to reduce the temptation from office treats.
From office Christmas parties to gifts from friends, the holidays offer no shortage of treats. By bringing your own healthy snacks (like veggies and hummus, or fruit and almond butter), you’ll be less likely to eat another cookie someone dropped off for your team.

Tip #8: Remember the 80/20 rule: eat healthy 80 per cent of the time, enjoy the other 20 per cent.
The holidays are not a time to deprive yourself – remember that the key is moderation. If you know you’ll be snacking on homemade cookies in the evening, bring some healthier snacks for during the day to create a balance and ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

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