How to survive Christmas indulgences
No one wants to be the food police at Christmas. And frankly, no one is really that interested in messages of moderation right about now, either. So I'm going to go ahead and say this: eat what you like this Christmas season.
How does this fit in with being healthy? It has to do not with what you eat, but how you eat. I'm talking about mindful eating. It's something to practise all the time, but especially now. Believe it or not, paying attention to a few easy mindful eating tricks can help you enjoy your Christmas indulgence even more.
So first: eat the foods you really, really love - the indulgent, heavenly, delicious things that are special to this time of year and that you truly adore. Eat them first and - try to think about this - enjoy them. Really take the time to savour what you're eating. Don't feel guilty so that you wolf things down in a hurry. If you're going to have that mince pie, chocolate truffle, pudding with brandy sauce or creamy pavlova, you want to feel afterwards that you have really enjoyed it.
Faced with a buffet or abundant spread, resist the temptation to start filling your plate from the beginning of the table. Before you start, pause for a moment to look at all that's on offer. Decide the three things you're going to enjoy most then head straight for them. There's no rule that says you have to eat everything.
If you can, try to avoid mindlessly grazing. That means once you've chosen what to eat, step away from the food. When food is within quick reach it's so easy to keep eating beyond satisfaction. That goes just as much for finger food or that bowl of corn chips as for a sit-down banquet. If you want it, have it - but think about it.
Train your eyes to recognise a healthy portion. Whenever you're serving yourself, mentally use the "ideal plate" as your guide; a quarter meat or other protein, a quarter potato or other carbs, and half leafy greens and other vegetables. Keep to that rule - it won't exclude anything from the Christmas table - and if in doubt pile that plate with lashings of veges. The great thing is that lots of Christmas salads and veges are naturally healthy and nourishing, so enjoy them in abundance.
It always makes me smile when I see the annual supermarket frenzy that is Christmas Eve; people buying like there is no tomorrow, as if the shops are about to close permanently. In reality, the shops are closed for one day. The same theory applies to your Christmas Day eating. Here I like to think of one of nutritionist Claire Turnbull's favourite tips: Remember, you will see food again. It's not your last meal. But slow down and think of savouring your food as if it might be, and you hopefully won't have any Boxing Day regrets.
Have a happy and healthy Christmas.
Niki Bezzant is a healthy-cooking expert and the editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine, latest issue on sale now.
Do you have a question for Niki? Email editor@ healthyfood.co.nz.
Sunday Star Times