December marks the start of the holiday and festive season – when healthy eating tends to go out the window, in favour of party food, drinks and too many candy canes.
Western Sydney Local Health District’s population health team has a few simple steps to keep the party going while staying healthy.
Here are some tips from WSLHD population health deputy director Christine Newman:
- Drink water before you head out to a Christmas event or start eating. Research shows by drinking water can help control your appetite. Avoid alcoholic or sugar-sweetened drinks where possible and if you are having a treat beverage, alternate with plenty of water.
- Choose smaller portions. Downsize the amount of food on your plate and remember, moderation is best.
- 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 physical activity into your busy schedule, like taking the stairs at work or parking the car a little further away to walk to your destination.
- Choose fruit and vegetables. Choose dishes which contain lots of fruit and vegetables. If you’re invited to bring a plate, swap crackers and French onion dip for carrots, red and yellow capsicum, green beans and snow peas served with avocado or beetroot dip.
- Watch your snacking. Eat small, healthy snacks before you go out so you’re not tempted to indulge at parties. Always look to swap high energy food for healthier options like:
- A handful of cherries, instead of a handful of lollies
- Vegetable sticks and guacamole, instead of chips and dip
- Unsalted pretzels or nuts, instead of shortbread biscuits
- Topping desserts with fresh, frozen or canned fruit in natural juices instead of icing or cream
- Treats like fruit cake are best eaten occasionally and in small portions.
“Some of the common festive season hazards include food poisoning, alcohol abuse, high stress levels, falls, motor vehicle accidents, dehydration and heat exhaustion,” Christine said.
“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.”
WSLHD invests approximately $2 million annually on tackling obesity, and $1.5 million for the WSD initiative.
In 2019-20, the NSW Ministry of Health has allocated $36.6 million towards reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity.
For more advice on healthy eating and active living, click here.