Oh, isn’t Christmas wonderful. It is a time of giving, sharing and forgiving, a time for beautiful decorations and family gatherings. Yet, the festive season can be a strain on the mood as well as the health Nutritionist Randa Fahed thought it would be a good time to give some tips on enjoying healthy eating this holiday season, be it at home, at the office or with friends.

Do some pre-holiday planning

Decide ahead of time how you will handle the different events of the season. Agree with your friends in the office to share either healthy food or non-food choices while playing secret Santa. For non-festive days, plan healthy meals and get some daily exercise.

If you are invited to a friend’s house, take a plant, flower bouquet, candles or some nice soap instead of gateaux or Arabic sweets

Eat a snack before going to a party 

Have a non-fat yogurt or fruit, a few crackers with low-fat cheese or labneh, or a skim-milk latte, so that hunger won’t affect your choices.

Allow your eyes to scan the feast table first

Before eating, see what is being served. If there are raw vegetables or dried fruits or even raw nuts, start with those, to take the edge off your appetite. If you are at a buffet party, plan to eat the salad and three choices of your favorite dishes only. Do not worry about what you are missing; you will have similar food at another gathering soon.

Avoid guilty pleasures

These include chocolates or chips, which you can have anytime. Go for seasonal favorites such as rum-drenched fruitcake, log cake or Christmas cookies instead. Enjoy, but keep your portions small. 

Stand away from the buffet table

Fill your plate and move away immediately. Make one trip to the buffet, and be selective (no more than three varieties)

Exercise 

Do not put your activities on the shelf during this season. Physical activity releases the feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which help you to relax, feel happy and boost your mood. By undertaking simple tasks such as dancing at home to Christmas tunes, strolling through a mall or joining in with Christmas games, you can benefit from experiencing reduced anxiety, decreased depression and improved self-esteem. If you go by the book, continue your routine in the gym. In addition, recent research has indicates that regular exercise can help to boost our immune systems, enabling us to better fight off colds and flu viruses that are prolific in winter months.

Hold your drink in your other hand

The right hand if you are right-handed or left hand if you’re a lefty. This will make it more difficult to reach for food on impulse.

WATER

Nutritional advice is never finished without a last word on water. Water is so important for our bodies, not only to get them functioning properly but to keep them glowing. Of course water intake is not limited to drinking bottles of water; herbal tea and warming soups are great wintery options as well.

Eat slowly

Put your fork down between bites and chew thoroughly. Talk to your friends and try to help in serving, so your meal will last longer. Share your dessert.

Indulge in moderation

No need to go without your favorite foods, just take small portions, eat slowly and savor every bite.