Celebrate a Healthy Festive Season: Creative Gift and Party Food Ideas from Bright Diets

by LukeAdmin

By Carin Clegg – Accredited Practising Dietitian

At this time of year there are celebrations galore and the social norm is to indulge. But with most of us trying to keep the whole family healthy and stop the kids from going crazy on coloured, flavoured, and preserved foods, the only sensible solution is to start some new Christmas traditions.

Get on Top of Gifts Early
If I had a dollar for how many patient’s, parent’s, teachers and healthcare workers told me they wish people would not give them or their kids ‘sometimes’ or ‘discretionary foods’ I would be rolling it just like the big multinational food companies!

Talking to family and friends about what gifts would be best is a top priority and lays the expectation of what you would and would not like to receive in future years too.

Active gifts keep everyone moving and the list is endless:

  • Bats, rackets, balls of all sorts, Frisbee, skipping rope, boogie boards, helmets, gloves, shoes, protection padding or even bike maintenance kits
  • Exercise and sports classes/ memberships including dance, skating, circus, reformer Pilates and cardio tennis
  • Adventure experiences can include sailing, kayaking or indoor or outdoor fun parks
  • In light of the edible food garden trend, a small packet of herb or vegetable seeds can make a great easy, cheap and healthy gift
  • A dwarf fruit or nut tree can be well received and these used to be more traditional gifts back in the day
  • If you must give food, go for a thoughtful food basket
    • Buy a basket from an op shop and fill it with some goodies: fresh fruit, uncracked nuts, fair trade tea or coffee, home or locally made chutneys, oils, dressings, and sauces
    • I bet most teachers would very much appreciate a basket of fruit from their class where each child takes gives 1 piece of fruit that they think their teacher will like.

Partake in Party Food

Go to the extra effort to have a rainbow of nutritious colours with:

  • Veggie sticks
    • Capsicum, cucumber, carrot, celery, beans, broccoli and cauliflower stalks or florets
  • Dips
    • Hummus, tzatziki or veggie dips are a favourite
  • Salads
    • Jazz up a salad with some leftover roasted vegetables like pumpkin and beetroot, some herbs or edible flowers like violets or nasturtiums. Serve the dressing on the side so everyone, particularly the kids, can choose how much or how little they like
  • Fruit
    • Salads or platters
    • Add apple or pear slices, grapes, or strawberries to the cheese platter
    • Frozen fruit such as orange quarters, grapes, berries, and banana chunks are always a hit for all
  • Home–made yoghurt or fruit juice ice–blocks with added fruit slices.

Avoid over–filling plates. Encourage the kids to decide to try a little of a few options rather than a lot of everything.

Bring a container for leftovers so nothing goes to waste and you and the kids feel like they did not miss out if they did not try everything.

Cheers Big Ears!

Limit excess, easy to drink energy by:

  • Adding plenty of ice and soda water to juice, cordial, soft drinks, the punch and cocktails
  • Using small cups or glasses for high energy drinks and using large glasses for water
  • Remember to alternate sweet or alcoholic drinks with water
  • Offer water to everyone to look after them too.

Eat Mindfully

  • Plan ahead. Think about what foods you will be eating over the festive season when out and when at home. Try to balance out the family’s food intake over the day or week
  • Think about hunger level – are you or the kids really hungry?
  • Think about why are you eating? Often, we eat more food in social groups and are not paying attention to our hunger. Removing the food to keep it safe in the fridge to avoid unnecessary nibbling can be a great strategy
  • Keep portions in check:
    • Avoid piling your plate sky high:
    • Stick to ½ plate salad or vegetables, ¼ starchy foods and ¼ protein foods or less if you have just eaten or plan to have dessert
  • Slow down and truly appreciate the eating experience
    • Savour the smell, textures and tastes. Notice how the sensations change as you chew and swallow
    • Put your cutlery and drink down between each bite or sip
  • Be happy knowing when enough is enough.

Take control of the temptations with your family this year and have a tremendous festive season!

Carin Clegg is the Director of Bright Diets and is a Paediatric Dietitian and Fitness Professional with an interest in environmental sustainability. Carin wants everyone to be clever about their eating to feel happy, healthy and vibrant! Contact Carin on 0407 492 278 or via www.brightdiets.com.au

You may also like