A holiday feast and party survival guide

Article 4 min

The holiday break sometimes feels like a never-ending marathon of dinners and parties. How do you make it through without overindulging? We spoke to dietitian Lucie Bérubé from Dairy Farmers of Canada to get tips on snacking, managing portions, and making the most of this special time of year.

By DFC - PLC, Communications Team
A family enjoys a holiday meal together

How can we make the most of holiday meals without overdoing it?

Lucie Bérubé: If there was one key thing to remember, it’s to respect your appetite. At so many holiday gatherings, the food just seems to keep on coming. So, it’s important to recognize hunger as the signal your body sends you when you actually need energy. It’s normal to be tempted by the variety of dishes available. And when that’s the case, try starting with just a little bit of each dish. If you’re still hungry after a first round, it’s ok to take seconds of the foods you enjoyed most. Keep in mind that when no specific foods are off-limits, it’s much easier to simply enjoy your food and the good times, minus the guilt trip.

How should we eat prior to a large, and perhaps late family meal?

Lucie Bérubé: For many, it can be tempting to skip meals before a big dinner, but it’s never a good idea. Arriving to a party on empty stomach makes the nearest snack bowl all the more tempting. And when we’re famished, it can be hard to stop. Enjoying small meals and light snacks throughout the day before a party is the best way to avoid over-indulging later on. And the same goes for kids. Make healthy snacking part of their daily routine, so they can maintain a good and steady energy level throughout the day.

 

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For many, it can be tempting to skip meals before a big dinner, but it’s never a good idea.
Lucie Bérubé, dietitian

So, we should eat snacks, but what kind?

Lucie Bérubé: Snacks should always contain a source of carbohydrates (sugars) and protein. Nutritious high-carb foods include fruit, vegetables, whole grain crackers, homemade muffins, homemade granola bars, and whole grain bread. For protein, look to foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds, egg salad, fish, poultry, lentils, beans, etc. There are so many options! Carbs provide energy while protein helps satiate you over a longer period of time. Choosing snacks that combine carbs and protein is simply how we should be snacking every day, year-round.

How about traditional holiday fare: eat it or skip it?

Lucie Bérubé: The holidays are a time for celebration. Focus on spending time with friends and family, not on restricting particular foods or dishes. The recipes we cook and share come to represent our family traditions and our culture. These meals are an opportunity for coming together. They’re moments to cherish. So, take some time to cook with your family and to celebrate the culinary traditions that are passed on from one generation to the next.

 

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Take some time to cook with your family and to celebrate the culinary traditions that are passed on from one generation to the next.
Lucie Bérubé, dietitian

Any tips for the office holiday party?

Lucie Bérubé: It’s always a good idea to enjoy a glass of water in between two drinks. And if one of your colleagues isn’t having alcohol, respect their decision. When it comes to filling up your plate at the buffet, pick out the dishes you really want to try and only go back for seconds if you’re still feeling hungry. Sometimes, we pile up too much food on our plates. Don’t feel obligated to finish it off if you’re already full. Just listen to the signals your body is sending you.

Do you have any tips for nursing a hangover?

Lucie Bérubé: Drink plenty of water to rehydrate your body, exercise to get oxygen flowing (for example, go out for a walk), and enjoy a simple snack. There’s no miracle cure for hangovers. Time usually does the trick.

What are your thoughts on food and detox trends?

Lucie Bérubé: Trendy diets and detoxes come and go, but it’s important to recognize that there is no such thing as a miracle food. As human beings, we need to enjoy a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Ideally, we should eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full. It’s also important to stay hydrated!

So, what does a dietitian eat over the holidays?

Lucie Bérubé: Stews or casseroles, turkey, chocolate Yule log… My family is very traditional! Every time we’ve tried to do something different, we ended up telling ourselves  “That just wasn’t as festive—why not stick to the traditions we know and love!”