Healthy eating over the festive season can be challenging as there is often a lot more food and alcohol around, not to mention the extra social events there are to attend. It is important to remember that this is a time to relax with loved ones and delicious food is part of the enjoyment so if you are having a few extra bits and pieces make sure you just relax and enjoy it, without guilt. My clients and I always talk about maintenance being a realistic goal over silly season and I usually get them to pick one or 2 healthy habits that they want to continue over this time. It could be as simple as staying hydrated every day or aiming to have 2 cups of vegetables with lunch and dinner, anything that helps you maintain a level of focus on your goals. So often I have people come to see me in the New Year with a goal of wanting to lose the extra holiday weight they have just gained.
The AWESOME thing is, that with a bit of awareness and planning you can still have a ‘merry’ Xmas and look after yourself at the same time. Imagine kick-starting 2018 with far more exciting goals like joining a new sports team or learning to play an instrument or signing up to a course that you have always wanted to do, I don’t know, the options are endless! All I know is that starting the year with a goal to lose weight is not very inspiring and often includes some sort of crash diet that never sticks (because no diet ever works long term and let’s be clear, that is the diets fault, not yours!). Anyway, that is another blog for another time. Below are some ideas that my clients and I have come up with over the last few weeks to help you stay healthy over the silly season – my advice would be to pick a couple that seem realistic and motivating to you and make them happen this summer, it is amazing the difference it will make.
1. Keep the non-starchy vegetable intake up – fill at least 1/2 your plate with salad and/or veggies first and then add the meat and carbs.
2. Stay hydrated. It is easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soda water – it will slow you down and keep you hydrated at the same time.
3. Take your time to enjoy your food and chew it well. Remember it takes around 20 minutes for your stomach to send messages to your brain that you are satisfied so slow down!
4. Stay active. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym everyday – there are heaps of fun ways to stay active over this time – go for a walk to watch the sunset, dust off the bikes, play some backyard cricket, swim at the beach or walk up and down a few sand dunes, it all counts.
5. Avoid standing near the food. It is easy to overeat when you are standing right next to the grazing table. Get a napkin with a few of your favourite things and make conversation somewhere else in the room.
6. Avoid going to a Xmas party or event really hungry. Have a high protein snack before you go to help prevent you from overeating.
7. Take some nutritious food options with you (or serve them if the party is at your house):
• Healthy platters – vegetables, fresh berries, edamame beans, chicken/vegetables skewers, lean mini meatballs, prawns, unsalted nuts, hummus, yoghurt dips, homemade bliss balls, falafel patties, chocolate dipped strawberries all look amazing on a platter. Reduce the amount of savouries, chips and cheeses and add some more of these, the crowd will love it!
• Salads – the options are endless and they look so good on the table. Add fruit/nuts/seeds/fresh herbs/wholegrains such as bulgur wheat, quinoa and brown rice to make them more exciting.
• Vegetables are also great on the BBQ – asparagus, capsicum, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, onions are all delicious with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
• Non-alcohol drinks – soda water with mint/lemon/berries or fruit tea bags and lots of ice are great options.
8. If you are having dessert, choose a smaller portion and serve it with some fruit/yoghurt/custard, take your time and enjoy it!
Most of all, remember to relax, enjoy your food, celebrate the year that has been and be grateful for the time you have with loved ones.
Have a fabulous Xmas and New Year!!
Bring on 2018…