Forewarned is forearmed and so 99FM’s MYD Heart spoke to Samantha du Toit, a Namibian Nutrition and Dietetic Consultant and founder of Eat Clean Namibia, to find out how to make it through the holidays with our health intact. Samantha prepared this holiday eating guide for us.
Eating Right During the Holidays by Samantha du Toit
In practice and even in everyday life as a dietitian, I often hear people jokingly say: “I’ll start my diet on Monday”, or “I’ll start seriously looking at what I eat when I’m back from holiday”. When you are saying this to yourself, you are setting yourself up for failure.
When it comes to managing our weight and health, everything we put into our mouths every single day matters and counts. This is why it is important to try to maintain a healthy eating pattern as far as possible over the holiday season. The body unfortunately does not accept excuses or allow more abuse just because it’s a public holiday. That being said, food (especially high calorie foods in large quantities) and beverages are a very big part of socialising and celebrating over the holiday and festive season. As dieticians, we acknowledge this and encourage people to enjoy their food but in a more healthy way.
What makes the holidays a tricky time is that our environment, circumstances and routine usually change. However, try to remember that you are still in control of WHAT, HOW MUCH and WHEN you eat. Try to keep yourself focused, not to lose the ground you have gained in order to at least MAINTAIN your present weight during this period.
Firstly, try to be in tune with whether you are actually hungry and practice being moderate with your food choices. Applying this to food means having a small portion of what is being offered if you really feel like having it. Always have only one portion of what is being offered and try to eat slowly to ensure maximum satisfaction from the food eaten. If large portions have been dished for you, remember that you can politely say when you have had enough to eat. Remember you only have to eat until you are just satisfied. Never eat until you are overfull. You don’t have to finish everything that is set in front of you. Listen to your body and leave what you don’t NEED to consume.
Try to enjoy your food in context. This means eating for the occasion while applying moderation. For example, it might be enjoyable to have 1-2 glasses of wine at a celebratory dinner; however it would be inappropriate to drink a whisky and soda at 09h00 in the morning. Drinking the wine would be seen as “in context”, while drinking whisky would be seen as “out of context” and would therefore be an undesirable behaviour, bringing with it undesirable consequences.
With alcohol, we readily identify appropriate or inappropriate behaviour for a particular occasion and time, we need to apply this to food intake as well.
Eating “in context”, over the holidays for example, you would be appropriately enjoy a dinner with friends, perhaps followed with a dessert, one small portion. It would however be inappropriate to continue to have a second or third portion of dessert, or to continue eating the same dessert over the next few days i.e. “out of context” of the social occasion.
Be aware of eating and drinking purely for entertainment or snacking excessively because of boredom. Over the holiday season people tend to use food and drink for entertainment. For example: meeting friends for coffee, taking the kids for ice cream, etc. Be careful of doing this too often. Try to be selective towards the type of food you choose and control the quantity by having one small portion. If you enjoyed ice-cream with the kids yesterday, is it really necessary to have it again today?
Being slim and healthy is a long-term goal that will bring quality of life and a feeling of well-being. In contrast the unhealthy foods only give immediate pleasure and are not long lasting. You will be left with regret and wishing that you had exercised more control. Make the connection between good healthy choices and the outcome you really want.
Enjoy your holidays!
Eat Clean Namibia was established in January 2015 by Samantha du Toit. She had been practicing as a registered dietitian in Namibia for 7 years. You can get in touch with Eat Clean Namibia by clicking here