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The silly season will soon be in full swing, with end of year functions, catch ups with friends and work drinks, many of us will be eating and drinking more than we are used to. The month-long celebrations in preparation for the big day often do more harm than Christmas Day itself.

Healthy eating and drinking, and maintaining a healthy weight has been shown to reduce our risk of cancer, but often over the holidays season, Australian gain up to two extra kilos! I am not saying there is anything wrong with overindulging every now and then—a balanced approach is key—but it’s something many of us forget about when it comes to Christmas.

This year, I’m here to help you be prepared with a special strategy which will allow you to enjoy the drinks and food without the unwanted kilo creep.

Here are 7 healthy holiday hacks to set you up for the holiday season:

1.       Plan your drinks

Alcohol contains a lot of calories and is often a big part of many social gatherings. This holiday season, plan ahead and decide in advance which events you will drink at (and how many drinks you will have) and which you won’t. On those days when you do decide to drink, try to have no more than two standard drinks per day. For a low-kilojoule hack, use soda water as a mixer, or add fruit and mint to soda water as a refreshing alternative. Remember, not only does water keep you feeling hydrated, but it also helps to stave away hunger!

2.       Don’t go to a party hungry

If you’re heading to a party, grab a piece of fruit to have on the way to fill up your belly so you don’t fill up on snacks. And, if you are going to a dinner event that is only serving cocktail food, eat dinner beforehand. It’s very surprising just how many calories each of those little morsels contain. With a full belly you will be better able to resist overdoing it (whilst still feeling hungry).

3.       Know your weakness

Do you prefer sweet or salty? Most of us have one that we just cannot resist, and for some of us it’s both! Set yourself a limit, or perhaps vow to not start at all – sometimes it’s harder to stop once you have a taste for it.

4.       Avoid processed meats

Platters are full of delicious food with many options to choose from. Skip the processed meats this year – instead go for olives, grainy crackers, hummus, yoghurt-based dips like tzatziki, veggie sticks, nuts and seeds.

5.       Have a platter strategy

Junk food is often hard to resist, and it’s easy to lose track of how much you have eaten. Even healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts need to be eaten in moderation as they are high in kilojoules. You can limit a serving to one small handful, but on food-filled occasions like the holidays, out of sight out of mind! We often gather around the food table – be smart and move away!

6.       Dessert smarts

Have decided to over-indulge? Why not share a piece of cake or pie instead of having the whole piece to yourself? This makes for half the calories while still allowing you to enjoy something you love. On other occasions, try skipping dessert or looking out for some fruit-based options.

7.       Be committed to keep moving

Your gym membership payment doesn’t take a holiday! Sticking to your physical activity routine will keep you energised and work off any extra food or drink intake. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a little extra time off, so you can probably fit in a Netflix binge AND a brisk walk.

Also, before the kids break you by saying ‘I’m bored’ every five seconds, be on the front foot by wearing them out with a regular visit to the local playground, park, beach or nature trail.

If you’re hosting an event or taking something to share, why not try one of our healthy and delicious recipes? Try my personal favourite—chickpea and roast pumpkin salad—or take a look at our recipes page and find your very own favourite dish to whip up, share and reduce your cancer risk.

Wishing you a healthy holiday!

Nat von Bertouch
Community Education Project Officer