Our guide to surviving the silly season

It’s not easy to make healthy choices through the Christmas party season. Here are five tips from Coles Group nutritionist Kim Tikellis.

Mixed berries

Try adding festive berries to brighten cheese or entrée platters.

Go for fresh

Choose wisely with your starting ingredients and you’re on your way to a healthy eating plan. Fresh summer fruits are abundant this year; try adding festive cherries, berries and cherry tomatoes to brighten cheese or entrée platters. Look out for fresh seafood or prawns, lean ham or turkey cuts for Christmas events and serve with leafy salads, lightly steamed veggies and wholegrain breads. For a lighter dessert option, create a fluffy mango mousse to serve with fresh summer fruit salad, sprinkled with toasted chopped pecan or macadamia nuts. 

Top tip: Aim to use yoghurt or chutney style sauces, instead of creamy heavy or oil-based dressings, to accompany protein dishes and sides.

Pace your portions

Eat a smaller amount of a wide variety of your preferred foods, exposing your palate to different tastes and textures, but not loading up on excess calories. Mindful eating, slowing down and taking time to enjoy the taste, texture and colour of food and drinks allow your stomach time to signal your brain when you are feeling satisfied. The key with desserts is keep your portions small and therefore the calories reduced. 

Get outdoors

Summer is the perfect weather for a friends and family get-togethers around the barbecue or picnic rug. There are plenty of light, refreshing summer produce options for leafy green or vegetable-based salads and fruit salads, too – think kiwifruit, papaya or pineapple.  

The key to a picnic is preparation, so you can all enjoy relaxed time together. Try creating a lentil and mixed bean salad, veggie pizza, or mini-asparagus quiches.  Prepare and carry salad dressings separately, so that food remains crisp and fresh, and guests can add a “just-right” amount to their plates. 

For the barbecue, in addition to meat, try whole corn cobs with lime and chilli, or sweet potato with cumin, on the grill, pre-wrapped in foil to prevent burning.  Char-grill colourful veggie slices threaded onto skewers: try mushrooms, red or green capsicum, zucchini or eggplant cubes.

Stay active

While you’re in holiday mode, it’s important to stay motivated to remain physically active for good health.  Including at least 30 minutes of physical exercise daily can benefit both your health and your quality of life. Regular exercise helps reduce the risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Take advantage of local facilities, such as the beach, swimming pool, or tennis court during good weather. Head to the local park with the family and a ball, frisbee or cricket set, or stroll with a friend around regional botanic gardens. If on holiday, try a tour on foot – walking is a healthy way to see the local sights plus is an aerobic weight-bearing exercise. 

Cheers! Drink responsibly  

Many Australians enjoy a social drink together, especially during the festive season. If weight-conscious, or watching your waistline, do consider your drinks, as both alcohol and sweetened soft drinks can easily add to your calorie intake. One way to minimise this increase in energy intake is to dilute alcoholic drinks with diet mixers or a soda spritzer, made with half soda. There are now plenty of “lite” beer options available that are lower in calories or alcohol-free.