Creating a platter of vegetables is one easy health-conscious choice you can make this holiday season.


The holiday season brings out some of the most enjoyable times of the year, but come January, that joy can be quickly forgotten when clothes fit a little tighter.

A great deal of discipline is required to keep the appetite in check while still letting loose and having a good time.

Calgary dietitian Anar Jamal says people have to train themselves to not necessarily cut out, but calculate the amount of foods that are so devilishly tempting yet harmful to a person’s health.

She tells people with medical conditions such as diabetes to take take stock of what and how much they will be eating before they get into a situation where the temptation becomes too much.

In order to keep blood sugar levels even, she says it is more about the carbohydrate intake as opposed to sugars themselves that needs to be taken into account.

“The impact on sugars going up and down wouldn’t necessarily be sugar use, but it would be the carbohydrate content of the meal. That is more important than the actual sugar content.”

Carbohydrates play a big part in how a person’s blood sugar levels will act, as once ingested they convert into sugar.

Jamal says a basic guideline as to how much starch should be in the diet should be about a quarter plate. Half should be filled with vegetables and the other quarter with meat.

“Keep your eye on the portion size,” she said. “It’s not what you eat, but how much you eat.”

Another way to keep the carbs down is to use vegetables as dipping items along with yogurt or salsa as opposed to chips or crackers and creamier dips.

When it comes to drinking she suggests using low sugar beverages such as sparkling water or cranberry juice as mixes. If a person has to have pop with a drink it is better to go with diet.

Vancouver chef Frank Pabst says tweaking his recipes to diabetics and the health conscious at Blue Water Café is as easy as adding and subtracting a few ingredients.

“There are always items that are easily adjusted.”

Pabst suggests taking out the flour or cornstarch from gravy and leaving it au jus to take out the carbs. Having a slightly tart cranberry sauce by removing some of the sugar is also a healthy choice Pabst uses himself.

Pabst argues, while taking some of these elements out of your diet may seem like punishment at first, people have the ability to get used to a more health conscious diet. He also suggests using spices instead of salt.

“It will not be the same obviously, but I think the palate gets accustomed to eating food that has been flavoured with things other than salt.”

Health tips

  • Make physical activity part of the holiday fun. Plan a cross-country ski or a hike combined with a potluck with friends.

  • Give a gift of health that lasts all year — an exercise ball; golf lessons for the golf fan; or a pedometer for someone who enjoys walking.

  • Track your eating and activity level over the holiday season to help you stay on track. Dietitians of Canada EATracker at a convenient tool.