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Tips for a healthy Christmas season

Don't let holiday-season gluttony lead to New Year's resolutions that you know you won't keep. Instead, play it smart and stay healthy.

If your holiday-season eating habits look like this, then maybe it's time for a change.

'Tis the season

The holiday season is upon us. Look forward to several weeks of Christmas parties, holiday dinners, brunches with relatives, and a nagging urge to make New Year's resolutions including the phrase "Grouse Grind". And come on, we both know you'll do the Grind maybe once, tops.

Don't fall victim to the holiday binge-and-regret cycle. Instead, follow these tips to stay ahead of the gluttony game.

Get active

Show off your killer scarf-and-hat combo to the entire city.

  • Walk everywhere. Visitors in from out of town? Show them every last centimeter of Seawall. Holiday shopping? Combine transit and comfortable shoes, and leave the car at home. Besides, this is a prime people-watching season, especially since shoppers get more frantic as Christmas approaches. Schadenfreude as a cardio activity: oh, yes.
  • Between dinner and dessert, take your out-of-town guests on a Christmas-light safari of your neighbourhood. Marvel at the pretty houses, and of course feel free to laugh at the garish displays of light pollution.

  • Ice skating at Robson Square. Snowshoeing at Cypress or Mount Seymour. Dusk strolls around False Creek. Get into the whole "winter wonderland" thing.

Healthy hosting options

The beauty of hosting a holiday party is that you control the cuisine. Use your powers for good, and not for evil.

  • Make sure your table has food that once had roots. Most of us eat at parties as a matter of course, so give us something healthy to chew. Otherwise we'll be left staring ruefully at that plate of cookies until the inevitable occurs. Then we'll hate ourselves. Then we'll hate you for not providing strawberries or carrots.
  • Provide non-alcoholic, non-eggnog drink options (and take advantage of them yourself). Soda water with lime is an underrated party pleasure.

 Manage the mayhem

You're probably not crazy enough to host multiple Christmas parties, so surely you'll be someone's guest at least once this holiday season.

  • Offer to bring a fruit or vegetable tray to the party, just in case the host or hostess hasn't read this article. Then make them read this article.
  • You're not in college anymore: eatin' is not cheatin'. Have a snack before hitting the party circuit. Holiday food (and holiday booze) plus an empty stomach equals trouble.
  • Make a deal with yourself to skip the booze at a few parties this year. Gloat to your friends the next day about the glorious run you had along the beach as they were knocking back headache pills while doing the walk of shame.
  • Eat slowly, and only take a few food items at a time. More socializing, less gourmandizing. This works amazingly well, as the stomach takes its time in telling the brain that it's full.
  • Drink slowly as well. Alternate glasses of water with glasses of wine or beer or scotch or gin or absinthe. Besides avoiding some of those alcohol-induced calories, you stand less of a chance of waking up in the drunk tank, where there's rarely enough room for a morning run.

It's not too difficult to stay healthy during the holidays. All you have to do is plan ahead, so that you're not left to face off against your own willpower. Think of all the other New Year's resolutions you can make (and break) instead.

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