Fresh fare

16:00, Dec 27 2013

Looking forward to some final festive feasts before New Year dawns and the diet starts?

Blenheim dietician Jenni Gane encourages people to look at the bigger picture.

"Make a lifestyle change," says the mother of three children, aged 8, 13 and 15.

"Have a balanced diet, be active, enjoy time with friends and family - and it doesn't have to be with food."

The registered practising dietician has worked in the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board's nutrition and physical activity programme, and is the Strengthening Families co-ordinator in Marlborough.

In October, Jenni started working as an independent dietician whose clients can self-refer.


Delivering the "Fat Chance" programme in Marlborough, she helps people set life-long healthy habits.

Eating is a social issue but because food is essential for all of us, bad eating habits are harder to break than other addictions, she says.

"Drugs and alcohol, you can stay away from those . . . [but] we need food to get nutrients and to survive. We can't run away from it."

Food is omnipresent at Christmas and New Year and Jenni tells people to approach their food intake as someone wanting to address a cash flow problem might.

"You budget, you plan, and you try to save.

"Plan what you are going to have . . . at these festive times. And look at what you can save."

Alcohol consumption can be reduced by diluting or replacing the fluids with juice or tonic water. Pour it into the same kind of glass friends and family members are using and toast good times for the year ahead.

When invited to a dinner party or barbecue gathering, don't turn up on an empty stomach, Jenny suggests. And try putting servings on a smaller plate. A second helping can be enjoyed if genuine hunger persists, but distinctive flavours and the enjoyment of eating wear off after the first half dozen mouthfuls anyway, she says.

Garden-fresh produce filled the Ganes' table for Christmas. Jenni, husband Nev and the children have a Christmas Eve tradition of jointly preparing fresh harvests of fruit and vegetables for the next day's dinner. There are peas to pod, carrots and potatoes to scrub, and cherries, strawberries and boysenberries to stem and wash.

"And we enjoy family time and a relaxing time. [It] doesn't have to be a rustle and bustle. By sharing the load the time costs are saved."

Slowing down while eating is a good habit to get into, too. "Talk in between mouthfuls, have that conversation, take time to eat."

Jenni encourages clients to return to grassroots living where food is grown and meals are prepared at home.

"It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle-changing programme."

The Marlborough Express