The key is to control your portions and go for healthier choices. By Joyce Teo
There are ways to indulge in your favourite food without damaging your diet. Photo: rawpixel / 123rf.com
Take every opportunity to be with precious friends and family during this festive season and indulge yourself: A big Christmas feast will not hurt the average, healthy person, so do not feel the need to deprive yourself entirely.
However, do control your portion sizes, eat in moderation and go for the healthier choices in order to stave off any festive weight gain.
If you have children, this is a time when you can set a good example for healthy eating.
Parents play a critical role in inculcating good eating habits. Helping your child make better food choices now will have a big impact on their health and quality of life in the future.
Here are some healthy eating tips for the festive season:
1. EAT REGULAR MEALS
Do not starve yourself in anticipation of a bigger meal or buffet as you will tend to eat more than you intended, advises a spokesman for the Health Promotion Board (HPB). You will also find it harder to make healthier food choices if you are very hungry.
2. EAT AND DRINK MINDFULLY
Instead of going for large amounts of food, take the time to savour every bite. This is a much more sustainable way of surviving the festive feasting than going on a binge, famine or diet cycle, said Mr Derrick Ong, director of nutrition consultancy Eat Right.
Mr Lim Kiat, a senior nutritionist with the Singapore Heart Foundation, suggested that you pay attention to the appearance, taste, aroma, texture and even the sound of munching of food. This gives your body enough time to send the message to your brain that you are satiated and prevent you from overeating, he said.
3. FOCUS ON QUALITY
You do not have to eat everything at a party. Just choose three to five of the most appealing items, said the HPB spokesman. And go for smaller portions as many festive food items are likely to be laden with calories.
Studies suggest that using a smaller dining plate can reduce your food intake by up to 22 per cent, said Mr Lim.
4. GO FOR MORE HIGH-FIBRE FOODS
Vegetables and whole grains are good for your health and will add bulk to your diet. This can give the feeling of fullness for a longer period of time and prevent overeating, said the HPB spokesman.
5. OPT FOR WATER
Wherever possible, choose water over sweet drinks, which are a source of empty calories, said the spokesman.
Alcoholic drinks, which are often served during this period, are also a concentrated source of calories. If you really must drink, go for the lowest-calorie cocktails.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2016, with the headline ‘Enjoy festive food without guilt’.