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Healthy Habits for the Holidays 



The holiday season is around the corner bringing with it expanding waistlines, stuffed turkeys and overflowing glasses of bubbly. Come the New Year, resolutions will be made to shed the added pounds. This can be avoided by adopting healthier eating habits, as outlined by Dr. Anita Das Gupta , Clinical Dietician at Abu Dhabi’s leading tertiary healthcare institution Burjeel Hospital, during the season to be merry:

  • Don’t arrive on an empty stomach:As tempting as it is to skip lunch to splurge on dessert at the office Christmas party, avoid doing it. Before going to the party, have a bowl of whole wheat cereal, carrot sticks or a handful of almonds. Skipping meals causes you to overindulge in added calories that you would have otherwise avoided.
  • Eat slowly:Take time to savor every mouthful of your food – opt for smaller bites and chewing slowly. The brain takes around 15-20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full, meaning by dessert time you are unlikely to overeat.
  • Eat the ‘good for you’ options first:Starting your meal with a bowl of clear broth or green salad will mean that you are fuller by the time you progress to the stuffed turkey and mashed potatoes and finally dessert.
  • Make sure munchies are more thanan arm’s length away: At a cocktail party, don’t position yourself close to the canapés or food table. This will ensure that you are not tempted to reach out and grab a naughty treat every so often.
  • Shop smart:It is easy to get distracted by the unhealthy options available in abundance when you shop for groceries during the holiday season. Instead of choosing canned pumpkin for your famous pumpkin pie, reach out for the fresh  Use a natural sweetener that tastes just as good as refined, processed sugar in desserts. Low fat dairy or whole grains are a healthier alternative so fill your shopping cart with these.
  • Plan wisely:When entertaining guests, do not plan your menu around food choices that are heavy in cream based sauces or empty calories like in a casserole. Instead of the usual mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes grilled with a drizzle of olive oil is a yummier, healthier option. Rather than a deep fried chicken breast slathered in mushroom cream, grilled chicken with a side dish of fresh  vegetable  salad is a better choice.
  • Serve healthier desserts:Melt a bar of at least 70% good dark chocolate, and then dip strawberries in it for a delicious finale to the meal. Toss together fresh fruits cut in to bite sized pieces for a colourful, healthy dessert.
  • Hang out with friends at the park:Do not kill time in front of the TV after a large meal, put on your running shoes and head to the park with a friend. Play a game of badminton or just take a walk around enjoying the cooler weather while catching up.
  • Buy fitted clothing:Holidays are times for a new wardrobe from the cozy sweater for Christmas party to the new dress for the New Years’ Eve party. When shopping, look for fitted clothing as these will act as a deterrent when you reach out for a second helping of dessert.
  • Be mindful of beverages:Alcoholic drinks lessen inhibitions and prompt overeating and the non-alcoholic beverages are usually laced with added refined sugars. At a party or at dinner out, ask the waiter for freshly squeezed juices or a glass of a good red wine. Keep it to a glass or two.



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