Eat, drink and be merry – but don’t overdo it!

Fruit baubles
Photo courtesy Healthy and Wellbeing Employee Benefits webpage

The festive season is when healthy eating can often go out the window, in favour of alcohol, party food and too many mince pies.

Many people find it hard to stay on track with regular exercise and a healthy diet, swapping running sessions for Christmas parties, family festivities and overindulging.

But, according to Western Sydney Local Health District’s Centre for Population Health, people can enjoy the festive season without gaining too many extra kilos, by simply focusing on their kilojoule intake.

Centre deputy director Christine Newman recommends people:

  • Drink water – before you head out to a Christmas event or start eating, have a glass of water. Research shows it can help control your appetite. Alternate water with an alcoholic drink to avoid overindulging.
  • Choose smaller portions – when tempted with delicious treats, apply the 80/20 principle, eating healthily 80 per cent of the time.
  • Be active every day – it may be the most hectic time of year but don’t let exercise fall by the wayside. Find ways to work exercise into your busy schedule, like taking the stairs at work or while Christmas shopping or hitting the dance- floor at your Christmas party.
  • Choose fruit and vegetables – always look for dishes with lots of fruit and vegetables. If you’re invited to bring a plate, take a platter loaded with carrots, red and yellow capsicum, green beans and snow peas and serve with avocado or beetroot dip.
  • Watch your snacking – eat a small, healthy snack before you go out so you’re not tempted to snack at events. Always look to swap calorie-laden food for healthier options like:
    • A handful of cherries, instead of a handful of lollies – save 300kj
    • Vegetable sticks and guacamole, instead of chips and dip – save 600kj
    • Panettone, instead of fruit cake – save 600kj
    • Two pikelets, instead of two shortbread biscuits – save 400kj

Ms Newman said it was also important for people to remember to eat and drink in moderation and ensure good food hygiene to prevent sickness.

“Some of the common festive season hazards include food poisoning, alcohol abuse, high stress levels, falls, motor vehicle accidents and heat exhaustion,” she said.

“To help you have a stress-free holiday, think about eating in moderation and avoid excessive alcohol – choose water or a non-alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated.

“Food safety is also important over this period so be vigilant with food handling – make sure no food is left out in the heat and only keep left-overs for a few days.

Avoid thawing frozen food on the bench – use a clean refrigerator or microwave – and avoid overstocking your fridge as good airflow around food is essential.”

For more advice on healthy eating and active living, visit: