This is the everything-you-need-to-know-to-be-as-healthy-as-possible newsletter, brought to you by Kristy Russ, pharmacist and health consultant. I have close to 20 years experience in helping people improve their health. I specialize in nutritional medicine, which is the secret of "true" preventative medicine. Yes, if I'm successful in getting people to follow my advice, I will put myself out of a job.

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The 12 (Holiday Eating) Tips of Christmas

Let the holiday season begin!

I love everything about this time of year- the excitement of my children, the more positive attitude of everyone, the decorations, getting together with family and friends, the parties... Unfortunately, all the socializing usually revolves around food, which leaves most people feeling pretty unhealthy and guilty by the end of the season.

So to help you get through the season with the least damage, I've compiled a list of holiday eating tips for you. And not the same old regurgitated ones that you find every year in the women's magazines. Some are brand new tips you've never seen before and some are just common sense things that we seem to forget until we're reminded.

When I was finished, it turned out there were 12 tips, so for your holiday entertainment, I'll do a musical intro ( I know it's cheesy, but I couldn't resist)...

On the first day of Christmas my pharmacist said to me...

  1. Plan ahead!
    Make sure you have extra-healthy meals when you're not partying. Stock up on the veggies at home, bring your lunch or choose healthy(er) lunches at work.

    And make sure to actually schedule exercise into your plan- don't think you're going to fit it into your "spare time", because there won't be any.

  2. Choose foods that won't actually cause cravings
    Choosing low glycemic foods will help keep you satisfied longer and won't make you actually crave high-carb garbage long after the party's over. Yes, when you choose the high glycemic foods, it actually affects your cravings for up to 2 days later. Go to the back issues (July 2010) for more info.

    Basically that means stick with proteins, veggies and fruits if you can- those are ideal, so eat them first and fill up on the healthy stuff. Processed foods and starchy carbs are the worst! And fat is NOT the enemy- you're better off with high fat than high sugar/carb. (Just watch the portion sizes!)

  3. Don't skip meals to "save up" for the party
    That just puts your body into starvation mode so you'll store every calorie you eat. Plus you'll be so famished you'll make poor choices and eat way too fast.
  4. But don't eat before you go either
    This common tip is ridiculous! You and I both know you're going to eat while you're there regardless, so why have extra calories before? If you're not hungry, you won't enjoy what you're eating either, so what's the point? Be hungry, not starving.
  5. Make it inconvenient to nibble
    Buffets are bad for mindless eating, so be sure to position yourself far away from the table. Better yet, keep both your hands full so it's nearly impossible to feed yourself- hold a drink in one hand and your purse or something else in the other.
  6. Chew gum
    This kinda goes with the above point. It's pretty tough to eat when you're chewing gum, right? This is especially good when you're cooking or baking, since it eliminates the mindless nibbling that goes on.
  7. Eat SLOWLY!
    Put your cutlery down between bites and chew well. Talk between bites... This helps you realize you're full before you've overeaten.
  8. Eat QUALITY calories only
    Skip the stuff you can have anytime and go for the really good stuff. If the food you select doesn't taste as good as you expected, stop eating it. It's not worth it! Think of how much less you'd eat if you only ate things that tasted fabulous!
  9. Go ahead and indulge- But fully enjoy it
    Again, this kinda goes with the above point. If the food is so special, give it your full attention rather than eating on autopilot. Eat mindfully- appreciate the appearance and aroma of your food and savor one small bite at a time. And ALWAYS sit down to eat- even if it's just a cookie. You'll eat less food but enjoy it more.
  10. Don't drink your calories
    Again, not worth it. You'd be absolutely amazed how quickly these add up. And the seasonal favorites are the worst- for example, rum & eggnog has about 500 calories and a Starbucks Gingerbread latte (even made with non-fat milk and no whipped cream) has 250 calories!

    Drinks tend to be glycemic nightmares too- soda & juice are very high glycemic and beer is moderate. Choose wine or hard liquor mixed with water or diet soda. At the very least, have a glass of water between each drink so you stay hydrated. Or better yet, be the designated driver and drink no-calorie drinks like water & decaf coffee or tea- I'll even relent to diet soda, since it's a special occasion.

  11. Plan get-togethers around activities instead of meals
    A meal is quickly forgotten, but a fun event will be remembered for years. Start a new tradition of toboganning, skating, hockey, a sleigh ride, snow football or whatever. It takes the focus off the food AND burns calories too! Double bonus!

  12. and the most important tip for last...

  13. Forget the guilt!

  14. It just becomes another holiday stress. If you overeat, don't worry. You'll have tons of time in the new year to get back on track. In fact, plan to join me in January as I facilitate another Healthy For Life Program- the wildly successful healthy lifestyle program that has a side effect of permanent weight loss. It went so well last year that all the friends and family of the participants have asked me to do it again so they can have the same results! Watch for more info about it after Christmas.

    Just remember: What you do the other 11 months of the year, regularly, is WAY more important than a few days of indulgence. In fact, if you make the best choices 90% of the time, you absolutely can (& should) reward yourself once in a while. Don't ruin your holiday worrying about relatively minor things.

    And in case you haven't figured it out already, these are tips you should be following all year (especially the last half), not just during holiday season.

I hope you picked up a few new tips to make this a healthier holiday for you. It's such a wonderful season, so go enjoy it. This year, just try to savour the company, the atmosphere, the entertainment, and the traditions as much, if not more, than the food.

We'll see you in January to make 2012 your healthiest year...

Because Laughter Really IS Good Medicine...


  1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two.
  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10 pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
  8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert?
  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, really, have some standards.
  10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Re-read tips, then start over. But hurry, January is just around the corner.

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It's fun. It's free. And you don't have to register for anything.

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Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell me what you think!

See you next month...

Good Health to You,

Kristy Russ, BScPharm Pharmacist and Health Consultant

P.S. Give your body the best nutrition possible. You'll not only feel better now, but you'll also have that quality of life in the future that you've always imagined for yourself. Click here to find out more.