The festive season is all about lolling on the beach, long-distance drives and late-night celebrations – but unfortunately it’s about indulgence and expanding waistlines too.

So try our easy-to-implement holiday eating tips; it will help you enjoy the pleasures of the season without popping out of your jeans come January.

1. For a day at the beach

Healthy sangas

Instead of ice cream, pies, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and chocolates, make some scrumptious sarmies.

On the outside: Use wholewheat bread for extra fibre, pumpernickel, a wholesome fruit-and-seed loaf or any bread with lots of whole kernels, crushed wheat and oats or oat bran (since these have a low glycaemic index). For a change, try Ryvita or wholewheat crackers.

On the inside: Remember that healthy fillings don’t have to fall flat on taste. Try these savvy substitutions:

    • Instead of butter or margarine, mix some finely chopped vegetables with low-fat yogurt or spread on some mashed avocado or peanut butter.

    • Instead of Cheddar cheese, use Mozzarella or low-fat Edam – this will save you 50kJ per 30g wedge.

    • Instead of regular mayonnaise, dilute low-fat mayo 1:1 with skimmed milk – this simple step will save you 298kJ per spoon.

Other healthy snacks

Pack a few other beach bites, such as:

    • Carrot and cucumber sticks

    • Dried fruit (two to three pieces or 30g equals one fruit)

    • Nuts (choose unsalted varieties and don’t overdo it – one portion equals 8 to 10 nuts)

    • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt

    • Bran muffins (they’re low in fat and high in fibre)

    • Popcorn (air-popped without too much salt and no oil)

2. On a road trip

Instead of pies, fatty foods, chocolates, sweets, salty, fatty takeaway meals, carbonated cold drinks, pack your own healthy snacks:

    • Chicken breast pita: chop and trim the fat off the chicken, mix with lettuce, cocktail tomatoes, peppers and low-fat dressing and serve in a pita bread or on a wholewheat roll

    • Super salad with cocktail tomatoes, carrot sticks, gherkins, cucumber and low-fat dressing

    • Mega-healthy meatballs with no added fat using extra-lean mince

    • Snack selection: include boiled eggs, fresh fruit, high-fibre muffins and beef jerky (small portion with no visible fat)

At cafés or petrol-station stores, choose the following:

    • Fruit, yogurt or drinking yogurt

    • Bread rolls and cheese wedges

    • Dried fruit

    • Bran muffins or low-fat health bars (e.g. seed bars, dried fruit bars)

    • Hard sucking or jelly sweets (instead of chocolates)

At restaurants, coffee shops and fast-food venues, choose the following:

    • Baked potato with cottage cheese and salad

    • Salads

    • Pasta with a tomato-based sauce (instead of a creamy one)

    • Grilled chicken, fish or very lean red meat with salad, baked or boiled potatoes and veggies

    • Vegetarian stir-fry

    • Toasted sandwiches with vegetable fillings – ask for no butter or margarine

Steer clear of:

    • Creamy sauces – instead of a creamy mushroom-sauce burger with chips, choose a Hawaiian burger with salad

    • Deep-fried food – instead of crumbed chicken, choose grilled chicken

    • Rich desserts – instead of cake or ice cream, choose a fresh fruit salad

3. At a festive cocktail party

Instead of high-fat finger foods, pizza, pies, pastries, cheese and biscuits, nibble on healthier nosh such as:

    • Meats – choose small portions of chicken

    • Prawns

    • Meatballs

    • Vegetables – pick the salad and fresh veg platters

    • Boiled eggs

    • Sandwiches

    • Filled pita breads

    • Fruit or dried fruit

    • Nuts

Instead of sugary cocktails, wine, beer and spirits, choose lite wine, lite beer, white wine diluted with soda water, spirits with sugar-free mixers or water. Stick to the following suggested units and remember to drink water between drinks:

    • Men – two to three units per day

    • Women – one to two units per day

One unit = 25ml spirits, 120ml wine or one can of beer or cider.

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