Keeping up with the holidays

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Holiday parties are inevitable during the Christmas season, which means festive food -- all of it being both tasty and fattening. Students seem to have issues getting back on track after so much indulging.

U of C resident dietitian Jaspreet Singh acknowledged how students react to the holidays depends on the individual. "It depends on the person, but some people find it difficult to indulge and get back on track the next day." She said that to keep their health on track, it's best for students to be aware of what they consume.

Instead of calorie-loaded mixed alcoholic drinks, Singh recommended sipping a large glass of water in between alcoholic beverages so that you stay hydrated and limit how much you're drinking. As well, keep in mind that alcohol on its own can even pack quite a few calories: A pint of draught beer has about 150 calories, a glass of red wine about 119, and a shot of straight vodka on its own has approximately 54 calories. Drink smarter, stay smaller.

Don't slack off on your fitness routine around the holidays, or you'll feel the results of holiday eating. Singh's best advice? "Continue to exercise daily." Students tend to think that because the holidays are a time to relax, this includes being lazy about working out. The opposite is true: if there was ever a time to work out it should be around Christmas, with hidden calories lurking around every corner. "Even if you don't have time to go to the gym, use the stairs, or go for a walk or or a jog," advised Singh. Making a pact with friends or family members to exercise daily can help keep you on track.

Singh advised eating more appetizers rather than holding out for the big meal. "Most parties will have a raw veggie and fruit platter, so this is a good place to start. Not only will you get some vitamins in your diet, you'll get fibre, which will help you feel less hungry and [cause you to] eat less."

Keep the toothpicks of the appetizers you've eaten on your napkin to remind you of how much you've actually already eaten. And don't stand around the food, she added. "Once you've decided what you will be eating, take your portion and move away from the table."

During dinner, balance your plate with reasonable portions, keeping in mind how the item was prepared. "For example," Singh explained, "chicken breast is usually a good choice, however, not if it has been breaded and deep fried." And pay attention to the sauces: "Try getting any gravy, sauce or salad dressing on the side," she advised. They can easily pack more fats and calories than the food savings themselves.

Of course, doing your own cooking is the best way to stay on track, both in nutrition and in budget.