During the winter holidays it’s easy to let your eating habits slide. Homemade treats and starchy side dishes can be instant pick-me-ups, and are especially tempting when it’s cold outside.
If you’ve taken the opportunity to indulge in festive food items, don’t let it stress you out. Nutritionist Carrie Regan of Mademoiselle Fitness offers some advice on how to start making healthy choices today.
Don’t skip meals
In fact, have more of them.
“To keep your blood-sugar stable you need to be eating every two to three hours. If you let your blood-sugar fall, then what you do eventually eat will be broken down into sugar and stored as fat. The more frequently you eat, the more your body can turn the food into energy instead of storing it as fat.”
Don’t miss out on breakfast, because it will give you the energy boost your body needs to function properly for the rest of the day. Regan suggests that a healthy eating plan should consist of “five to six small meals a day, each containing vegetables and lean protein. Cheese, yogurt, and non-oily nuts (such as almonds and walnuts) are great sources of protein for snacks.”
Steer clear of sweet snacks that are “light” or “fat free”
When the fat content is reduced, something must be substituted to make these products taste better – and the replacement is usually a lot of sugar or artificial sweetener. “When it comes to weight loss, looking at the sugar content is just as important as looking at the calorie content. You’re only supposed to have 40 grams of sugar a day.”
“Drink eight glasses a day to flush out your toxins and keep everything working properly. This also helps with weight loss: sometimes your body will be dehydrated and you’ll think you’re hungry when you’re actually just thirsty.”
Work on portion control when eating out at a restaurant
Regan explains that “portion sizes in restaurants are way bigger than they need to be.”
Also, selecting whole wheat pasta or brown rice, tomato-based instead of cream-based sauces, and ordering a burger without the bun, are all things you can do to eat healthier when dining out.
Try to choose a grilled chicken- or fish-based dish with veggies or greens, and avoid anything fried. Ask for the salad dressing on the side, and opt for oil and vinegar-based dressings instead of those made with dairy. Keep in mind that an ideal portion of meat at a meal is three ounces, or roughly the size of a deck of cards.
Eat as many vegetables as you want
While the tips above might seem a bit restrictive, the good news, notes Regan, is that “veggies fill you up faster.” This is useful information to keep in mind the next time you’re faced with unhealthy or greasy entrée choices, whether it’s at a friend’s dinner party or at a restaurant. “Reduce your portion of the unhealthy dish and try to fill up on the salad.”
Add flax seeds and fish oil pills to your diet
Regan explains that “flax seeds are a good source of fibre, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can use them in your baking – they have a nutty texture – or you can sprinkle ground flax seeds on your cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal. Fish oil pills are great for supplementing omega-3 and -6, and for lowering cholesterol and blood triglycerides. They may also help with appetite suppression, and are good for supporting a healthy weight.”
Remember that nutritious food does not have to be void of flavour! There are a wide variety of tasty, health-conscious recipes available for free online. Try not to think of what you aren’t having –focus on the health benefits of the food you eat instead.
Work these suggestions into your daily routine, and eat guilt-free all year!