The season is rapidly approaching – the one where our pantries are filled with holiday baking and our weekends booked with dinner parties and family gatherings.  While I love this time of year and revel in the opportunity to share good food with those I love, there are ways to have your holiday cake and eat it too.  There’s a word that we throw around all too freely, but rarely give it the weight it deserves – moderation.  It’s not about denying yourself the pleasures of good food; rather it’s about being choosy.  Think of your calories like a budget – you want to get the most flavour and enjoyment while not spending more than you can afford.  That means choosing food that stimulates your senses and savouring each bite.  Here are 5 tips to keep in mind while we are soaking up all of the season’s offerings:

  1. Know when to indulge, and when to hold back.  When faced with a buffet of choices, fill up on turkey, ham, and veggies, but go easy on gravy, stuffing, and finger-foods.
  2. Feed your sweet tooth, not teeth.  It is very easy to think, “Oh I’ll just have a small taste of everything.” But before you know it, you’ve had an entire day’s worth of calories on one dessert plate.  Instead, choose the 2 sweets that look most appealing to you, and half each of them with a friend (that’s right, for the equivalent of ONE dessert). Remember that there is often more than one occasion to enjoy such delicacies, so choose the best of what each has to offer and truly enjoy it.
  3. Beware of high calorie drinks.  A traditional Rum and Egg Nog can cost you over 400 calories and almost 20 grams of fat! That’s more than a typical slice of pizza! Alternatively, opt for lower calorie mixers, such as a club soda, or cranberry juice mixed with water.  This will save you over 300 calories, and all the fat, which you can then put toward that dessert you’ve had your eye on all night.
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  5. Never arrive to a party on an empty stomach.  That is like going to battle without a weapon.  Instead, have a light, high fibre snack 1-2 hours prior and drink at least 2 cups of water. A salad topped with a boiled egg, or a bowl of cereal with fruit and
    skim milk are great options.  That way, once you’re surrounded by temptation, you’re more likely to resist overindulging.
  6. Stay active! The holidays offer us plenty of opportunity to get moving, which will help us avoid the dreaded January weigh-in.  Instead of making the meal the focal point of the gathering, why not organize an ice skating party? Or make a family event out of snow shoeing.  Even a simple walk allows you time to catch up with friends and work off some calories at the same time.

Keep these tips in mind during the next few weeks, as you celebrate with family and friends.  Lose the all-or-none belief that you must either abstain from every delicacy offered or gorge on all that you can get your hands on.  Be selective.  Allow each flavour, and each moment, to linger just a little bit longer.