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Monday, December 19, 2016

10 Tips to Keep you Healthy During the Holidays

As athletes, you know how important nutrition is for maximizing your health and performance. However, at this time of year, it’s a bit more difficult for some to continue to eat healthy due to so many parties and dinners to attend. You don’t need to completely avoid all treats, but rather find a proper balance and be mindful about portion sizes. Otherwise, poor nutrition may lead to feeling more tired, sick and compromise recovery and training. Think about the 80/20 rule – 80% healthy foods and 20% holiday treats. Here are some tips to help you practice moderation and stay on track:

1. Eat Balanced Meals and Snacks During the Day
Skipping meals or eating less during the day to save up your calories for the evening is not a good tactic! Cravings will be higher and it will be difficult to practice moderation and balance with your food choices. This will also lead to overeating and consuming even more calories than if you ate during the day. Continue to have healthy, balanced meals and snacks leading up to holiday dinners and parties so you aren’t starving by the time you arrive at a party. High fibre foods like fruits and vegetables lean proteins and healthy fats can help keep you energized and satisfied. Some healthy snack ideas include a handful of raw nuts, berries and yogurt, or apple dipped in almond butter.

2. Stay Consistent with Your Healthy Eating and Exercise Routines
Our habits of meal planning, batch cooking, exercise and eating meal and snacks at proper times can sometimes be thrown off balance during the holidays, so try your best to keep a regular schedule. This makes it easy to keep up with those healthy habits during hectic times.  

3. Stay Hydrated
You are likely well aware how important hydration is to your performance, heatlh and just feeling your best. Dehydration can cause fatigue and you may confuse this with hunger. Prioritize drinking enough fluids throughout the day, and watch out for high calories beverages like alcohol, eggnog, pop, juice.

4. Eat Mindfully.
At parties, if you are standing or seated next to the table of food you may be more likely to mindlessly eat the appetizers or whatever food is available. Position yourself away from the table.

5. Find Ways to De-Stress
Holidays can be busy and stressful. Schedule in downtime to allow your self to de-stress, whether it be reading, exercise, yoga, etc.

6. Bring Healthy Options to Parties
If you have the chance to bring an appetizer, dish or dessert to a party or potluck, bring something nutritious! Fruit or vegetable trays, quinoa salad or hummus and veggies are simple options. If you want something both healthy and festive, here are some great ideas:

Make a veggie tray in the shape of a Christmas tree

Edamame Cranberry Feta Salad is a very simple but flavourful recipe and full of fibre and protein. To make, mix 2 cups edamame with 1 cups dried cranberries, 1 cup crumbled feta, 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of black pepper. Simple, healthy and delicious!

7. Load up on vegetables
Try to fill 1/3 to ½ your holiday plates with vegetables! The high water content and fibre will help to keep you feeling full. This leaves less room on the plate for other foods and will help you to portion size.

8. Keep Your Immune System Healthy
We are right into flu season and with the stress, busyness and possibly poor nutrition during this time of year, we may be more likely to get sick. Some nutrients important for keeping immune system healthy:
  • Probiotics (for example: kefir, probiotic rich yogurts, fermented foods) and pre-biotics (for example: asparagus, artichoke, onions, bananas)
  • Vitamin E: Avocado, nuts and seeds
  • Zinc: Meat and fish, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Antioxidants and Phytochemicals. Fruits and vegetables of a variety of colours. Berries, dark greens and bright orange vegetables are a few to focus on getting, but aim for all colours of the rainbow.
  • Vitamin D: Salmon, egg yolks, milk and milk alternatives. It is difficult to meet your needs with food, and in general during the winter, so a supplement may be necessary.
9. Bring Healthy Snacks When Travelling
The holidays can often mean you are travelling a lot! Bring healthy snacks on road trips so you don’t have to stop for takeout, saving you time and money. Some healthy travel snacks include:
  • Apple/Pear + cheese string or baby bell cheese
  • Snack size can tuna + 2 Ryvita crackers
  • Hummus for dipping veggies (carrot sticks) – You can find individual container packs
  • Individual container of cottage cheese and fruit or raw veggies
  • Hardboiled eggs – pack ahead of time or available at grocery stores and sometimes convenience stores
  • Trail mix
  • Packages of roast chickpeas (“The Good Bean” brand has lots of flavours)
  • Homemade protein bites or muffins. Checkout the #30daysofwhey recipes using Infinit Raw Protein for lots of healthy homemade snacks ideas 
10. Choose the Foods you LOVE
When faced with so many options, we may want to try a sample of everything, which can lead to overeating. Choose to eat the foods or desserts you absolutely love, as opposed to ones that just seem so-so. Be sure to savour the treats and enjoy them without the guilt because a treat or two shouldn’t hurt. Ask yourself which desserts can you have anytime, and which are special and only really available around the holidays? Have the latter!

Andrea Docherty is a Registered Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist and owner of a private practice nutrition consulting business in Windsor, ON called Andrea Docherty Nutrition. Visit for more information!

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