Since I wanted to focus a new series of posts about the festive season, what better way to kick it off with some healthy eating tips!
The festive period is always the worst time to be healthy. With an endless supply of treats, Christmas parties and indulgent dinners, weight gain is almost inevitable. Then January arrives with a renewed sense of motivation for getting fit, losing that extra 5 or 10lbs and adopting an all round healthier lifestyle. Gym memberships peak and new fad diets flourish… which ultimately fail. Did you know that 80% of New Years resolutions fail before Valentine’s day, a mere 6 weeks later? Sorry to be the barer of bad news but the statistics do not lie in this case.
My question is this: instead of letting yourself totally go in December why not attempt to have a healthier season? It doesn’t have to be about restricting fun but rather indulging in moderation.
I always advocate living a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable and actually enjoyable. It’s never about cutting back or deprivation but more about being aware of how food impacts on your body, health and wellbeing. Christmas is all fun and games until your jeans are too tight!
With that being said, I often get asked how to eat healthily during this season, so I wanted to share some simple tips:
Tip 1: Stay hydrated
People often forget to drink water during this time, instead opting for more indulgent or alcoholic beverages. However, dehydration causes lots of issues such as playing havoc on the digestive system, lethargy and drying out your skin. On the alcohol note, be aware of
- For optimal digestion aim for 2 litres a day
- Drink a glass first thing in the morning
- Have a glass before or with each meal
Tip 2: Alcohol calories
They easily add up. Simple as. Cocktails, creamy mixers and adding booze to your hot chocolate are easy ways to consume a lot of calories.
- Opt for lighter spirits such as gin and vodka
- Tonic water and sodas are lower calorie mixers
- Drink water in between drinks
Tip 3: Never go to a buffet hungry
You’ll end up overeating. Buffet food is rarely healthy because it’s cheap and full of salt and sugar, making those little nibbles far too addictive.
- Have a small snack beforehand to avoid turning up ravenous
- Don’t skip other meals or ‘save yourself’ throughout the day as it will lead to overindulgence
- Always eat breakfast (full of protein, healthy fats and slow release carbohydrates) to balance blood sugar levels and preventing a sugar crash. It’ll set the tone for the rest of the day
Tip 4: If you don’t love it, forget about it
Just because you’re surrounded by a plethora of food it does not mean you have to eat everything. Try to only indulge on the foods that are worth it and you really love or want to try. Before filling your plate at a buffet, look at the entire spread to decide what few things you want to indulge on. Fill the rest with healthier options such as protein and vegetables. The fibre will prevent overeating. You don’t want to be in the situation where you have eaten three desserts before spotting your absolute favourite! If it’s a three course meal, try to choose two healthier or lighter options out of three, or better yet share!
- If you like the decadent dessert option then go for a lighter starter & main (and vice versa)
- Share a starter or dessert
- Ask a waiter to adapt the option to make it healthier (restaurants can be very amenable to intolerances)
Tip 5: Don’t forget to eat the rainbow
Fruit and veggies that is! A plate of vegetables isn’t the most attractive food option at this time of year, but aim to eat around 5 portions a day. Why? If not you’ll end up with sluggish digestion and stomach problems. The fibre will also fill you up, potentially stopping you from overeating and preventing a sugar crash.
- Fill half your plate with vegetables
- Opt for fruit based desserts
- Seasonal fruit and vegetables are delicious!
Tip 6: Out of sight out of mind
Simple. If it’s not in eyesight wont be as tempted.
- Eat from a plate to be aware and accountable for what you’re eating
Tip 7: Be mindful and guilt free
Be mindful over the choices you make and remember the bigger picture. One indulgent day is not going to make a lot of difference in the grand scheme of things, but several could lead to unwanted weight gain. It’s easily done. Eat only when you are hungry and not out of boredom. Eat in a way to fuel your body and your soul.
- Are you hungry or bored?
- It’s ok to say no!
- Do you really need that second helping? The first and last bite are always the best so enjoy in moderation
- Going out? choose healthy options for the rest of the day but don’t restrict (e.g. Fill up on lean protein and lots of veggies for lunch)
Most of all, relax and enjoy the season! Focus on the bigger picture: taking time out and spending it with loved ones 🙂