‘Tis the season to carefully cheer!

Abundances of food and free flowing drinks are some common hallmarks of the festive season, but it’s important to keep things in moderation to ensure you stay safe and not over-indulge this Christmas.

Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Centre for Population Health deputy director, Christine Newman, has a few simple steps to keep the party going while staying healthy. She recommends:

  • Drink water before you head out to a Christmas event or start eating. Research shows it can help control your appetite. Avoid alcoholic or sugary drinks where possible, but if you do choose to have alcohol or a sugary drink, alternate with plenty of water.
  • Choose smaller portions – Downsize the amount of food on your plate – moderation is best.
  • Be active every day – It may be the most hectic time of the 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 that 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.

“Food safety is also important over this period so be vigilant with food handling – wash your hands frequently, wipe down benches and other preparation surfaces thoroughly,” Ms Newman said.

“Make sure food is properly refrigerated and is not left out in the heat. Avoid overstocking your fridge too, as good airflow around food is essential,” said Ms Newman.

She also recommends to seal leftovers in properly cleaned and airtight containers and only keep left-overs for a few days. If reheating, ensure food is reheated evenly with no cold spots.

It’s important to remember COVID-safety too: Try and keep gatherings outside; keep a distance of 1.5 metres between you and others not from your household; don’t share cutlery, utensils or drinks and if you have any symptoms – get tested and stay home.

Merry Christmas!