Healthy holiday food hacks on the road, at home and when dining out

The holidays are almost here, and if you don't want to wake up in the New Year feeling woefully overindulgent, here are some healthy food hacks to help you enjoy good food without the guilt!

Christmas calls for family feasts and generous spreads. This year, a few simple considerations can ensure that you don't just have good food, but food that's good for you. Here are some handy tips and tricks to to help you eat healthily on the road, at home and when dining out:

Snacks to pack for a road trip or day out

Avoid the garage pie or roadside burger binge by preparing and packing healthier, easily accessible snacks for the journey:

  • Fresh fruit - protect your car seats by choosing fruits that aren't overly juicy or messy - pears, bananas, grapes and berries work well. Fruits are high in vitamins and antioxidants, and will keep your energy levels from dipping as you drive.
  • Raw veggies - carrot, celery and cucumber sticks are easy to eat and great to crunch on as you drive.
  • Unsalted nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein and minerals.
  • Heavy meals can make you sleepy on the roads, but homemade snack bars made of baked oats, dates and dried fruit are high in fibre and can keep you fuller for longer.

Remember to pack hand sanitiser, reusable or disposable cutlery, a plastic bag for rubbish, and wet wipes.

Hosting meals at your home

Hosting at home need not be stressful if you plan well and make food preparation an inclusive family affair. As you have more control over exactly what goes into your dishes, it's a great opportunity to include all kinds of healthy twists in your meals:

  • As far as possible, avoid highly processed snacks like fried chips. Replace these with healthier homemade baked vegetable options. Favour homemade hummus and mashed bean dips, cottage cheese or avocado instead of store-bought sauces and dips that are usually high in sugar and salt.
  • Replace highly refined white rolls or garlic bread with whole-wheat versions or, even better - with roasted veggies like sweet potato and butternut, baked aubergines and grilled sweetcorn.
  • Encourage healthy drinking simply by not stocking many (if any) sugary beverages in your house. Dilute fruit juices to reduce the sugar content per serving; or mix with vegetable juices like cucumber or spinach. You can even experiment with some festive cocktails - healthy or alcohol-free versions of your favourites with less syrup and more fresh fruit. Make sure your guests always have cold jugs of water (infused with fruit and mint) or homemade iced tea within easy reach.

Dining out at a restaurant or buffet

Ever scan a restaurant menu and visualise all your good intentions of sticking to a healthy diet fly out the window? We've come up with seven handy ways to stay on track.

And if you're at a buffet, don't fill yourself with energy-dense treats first. For example, at a hotel breakfast, load your plate with more nutritious foods like scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms first. Eat slowly to give yourself enough time to feel full, and then, if you're still hungry, you can consider that croissant.

So go on - try these festive season food hacks to enjoy tasty meals without compromising your health, and start your 2020 with smart habits you'll be keen to keep up throughout the year!

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