There will be an excess of food, drinks and merriment this extended holiday weekend. But there’s no need to pile on the calories. In this week’s Healthy Living, Nutritionist Sandra Collins shares useful advice on how to make it through the many treats and eats this Christmas season.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Whether it was last year’s New Year’s resolution or the promise for the upcoming 2011; the focus on getting healthy has been a priority for many people worldwide. But with the upcoming Christmas meals, it’s hard to think of skimping calories when food is in abundance. Registered Dietician & Nutritionist, Sandra Collins, helps us with tips for surviving and enjoying the holiday season. The primary rule is to remember why you’re eating.

Sandra Collins, Registered Dietician & Nutritionist

Sandra Collins

“You eat for health and fitness. Everybody has to eat that’s a basic thing for everybody so that when you go to eat this is what you have to have in mind. When you are not eating for your health or for your fitness you are then eating out of greed or gluttony or pride for let’s say those who under eat and then you’re running into another problem.”

As for the fear of immense weight gain over the Christmas season, Collins explains how this is a misconception.

Sandra Collins

“The way the body puts on weight it’s not all of a sudden. The body always tries to keep itself in balance it will slow down the metabolism whatever it takes to keep a status. You know it wants to keep it like that. The truth is that there is that there is the myth that you gain two, six, ten pounds or whatever but it’s a myth. The truth is that if you have gained weight you have been gaining it over the eleven months before. In fact if somebody gains those kinds of weight over a short period of time it is an alarm. It means something else is wrong. You’re out of homeostasis.”

Continuous lack of exercise combined with overeating would result in weight. What may happen during this season is overeating due to the emotional effects of Christmas.

Sandra Collins

“The season is a stressful season there is a lot of demand on time and activity. You know, you have so many things that you want to do in a short space of time you have the shopping, the parties, money it’s a lot of stress. And then, it means for those who succumb to that; its emotional eating. The thing to do is to keep the reason for the season in perspective.”

One of the primary tools Collins suggests for Christmas feasting is practicing mindful eating. Taking time to taste, chew and savor every morsel that you eat this helps in promoting the second tool which is PORTIONS.

Sandra Collins

“When you’re eating something, you taste it you chew it you experience this food. Remember is food is supposed to be for your health but there is a pleasure component to it. as you eat it you are mindful of it. In mindful practice, you actually practice portion control. So here you are at this party and they have so many things available. When you eat you want to think of a plate and divide it in three. It would be one-third lean protein that is the foods from animals from our food groups here in Belize. One-third of the plate would be complex carbohydrates. We get the brown rice or rice and beans, potato, yams, plantain one third of that. And one third would be vegetables. So that’s portion control so if they have ten different food in all of these categories. You can’t eat all of it. You’re supposed to choose 1/3 of the plate of the food within that food group. So you go with what you like.”

As for the best choice in alcoholic drinks during the season; her recommendation is to go dark.

Sandra Collins

“From a health perspective the red wine is the best. It doesn’t have to be red wine from grape anything that have that redskin…those items are very good. It has a component in there that is antioxidant, anti inflammatory it’s estrogen-like and its very healthy.”

If you’re not much of wine drinker then remember moderation in your other drink choices. As you make appearances at different functions where the hordeurves will be available some of the better picks, according to Collins, include: olives, veggie platters (but be mindful of dip ingredients), tortilla chips with beans or salsa even ceviche that is if you’re not being cholesterol conscious. Stay clear of cheese and crackers, patties and even nuts.

Sandra Collins

“During the holiday you still try to stick to nutrition. We’re creative people here in Belize. I think we should learn nutrition and apply it to what we do for the person who eat it and the person who apply it. You just have to experiment with it and build on it. I see a lot of people who are doing it and I have to say it out loud to everyone else.”

The key is to enjoy the season with healthier choices. Christmas is a great way to keep the soul healthy too by spending time with family and friends.

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