The much anticipated festive season is a time for eating drinking and being merry with your friends and loved ones. Its traditionally a time when we indulge heavily in Christmas treats and find ourselves regretting it come January when we are worn out and a dress size larger. Here I am going to share with you my tips on staying healthy over Christmas, avoiding overindulgence and beating the morning-after blues.
Look After Yourself:
Tip 1: Enjoy yourself but make sure that you keep your healthy habits alive! You will thank yourself in January….
Tip 2: Be realistic with your goals but at the same time remember that the Christmas Festivities last for most of December – plan a couple of events that you really want to indulge at. That way you can enjoy the festive period but you won’t overdo it on every occasion.
Tip 3: Don’t abandon your exercise regime. Stay with the programme– whether its running, classes or walking the dog – it will burn up some of the excesses.
Tip 4: Be kind to yourself – grab an early night when you can. Sleep is restorative.
Tip 5: Do something that makes you laugh. Laughter relieves stress and is great for our health and well being!
Surviving Christmas Feasting:
Tip 6: Eat a good quality protein breakfast. This will help you to regulate your appetite and control hunger pangs – so that you won’t digging into the office mince pies or chocolates by 11am. Good breakfasts could include smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast, banana pancakes or some natural yogurt with berries and a sprinkling of nuts.
Tip 7: Keep healthy foods handy in the office, at home and when you are out and about so that you can prevent picking at junk foods which seem to be everywhere at this time of year. Think good fats such as proportioned bags of nuts & seeds, or oatcakes with fish pate, nut butter or hummus.
Tip 8 : Avoid the temptation of stocking up your cupboards with festive foods. Just buy them when you need them. It’s much more tempting to indulge when you have a cupboard full of treats.
Tip 9: Don’t go to Christmas parties hungry – have a healthy snack beforehand. This way you should be able to exercise some control when it comes to the number of canapes and snacks you consume! Good choices could include natural yogurt with fruit and seeds; Salmon and Spinach Wholemeal Wrap or a Bean and vegetable soup.
Tip 10: Be aware of the buffet! Don’t linger at buffet tables – it will only make you more likely to graze and overeat. Fill half your plate with non starchy vegetables, save a quarter for protein which shouldn’t leave much space for the chips and deep fried snacks.
Tip 11 : Don’t drink on an empty stomach. This isn’t simply because you will feel the effects of the alcohol more quickly. Alcohol is absorbed into your blood system from your stomach very quickly which can be very taxing on your digestive system, cardiovascular system, liver and kidney. The fuller your stomach, the slower the absorption. Eat before your drink and your body will thank you for it. Choose foods that are naturally high in good fat such as a salmon and avocado wrap (not a big portion of chips!)
Tip 12 : Make good alcohol choices. Vodka may be the least calorific spirit but once you have added a mixer its often loaded with sugar. In cocktails the sugar level is often even higher . A better choice is a glass of prosecco which has less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
Tip 13: Drink plenty of water drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink – it will reduce dehydration and help your body to detoxify.
Tip 14: After the party and before bed rehydrate! Try a pint of water with a pinch of salt. Alcohol is a diuretic which is often the reason you find yourself in the bathroom regularly during a night out. A lot of trips to the bathroom can deplete your body’s salt level – so a glass of slightly salted water should help.
Tip 15: If you are not drinking alcohol choose fizzy water with a slice of lemon and lime rather than sweetened. Or if you are the host try making this delicious alternative to mulled wine for the drivers at your party.
Tip 16: Aim to eat nutritious well balanced meals between parties. Nourish you body with good quality protein (nuts, seeds, legumes, lean meat, fish, eggs etc), good fats (oily fish, avocado, olive oil etc), and plenty of fruit and vegetables. This should help you to rebalance and cope better with the excesses of the festivities.
Tip 17: If your are meeting friends for coffee beware of the sugar content of festive coffees. Its not difficult to find that you have drunk the more than the whole recommended daily allowance sugar (6tsp) with one festive coffee.
Christmas Day Nutrition tips
Tip 18: If you are the host, treat your Christmas guests to some healthy nibbles such as olives, spicy nuts or kale chips rather than chocolates, sweets and crisps. This looks like a delicious alternative….
Tip 19: Keep things in proportion. A Traditional Turkey roast dinner is actually quite a healthy meal. Just keep an eye on your portion size, fill your plate half full with veggies, one quarter full with turkey or other proteins, leaving just one quarter for roast potatoes and other roast veggies. Oh and don’t go back for seconds! (see plate below)
Tip 20: The Christmas meal trimmings including bread sauce, cranberry sauce, gravy & stuffing tend to be high in carbs and sugar. Don’t deprive yourself of the flavours but do keep your portion size small.
Tip 21: Move your body – get out and about and enjoy some walks in nature – not only will you burn some carbs but you will reduce your stress levels too!.
Tip 22: Use up leftovers during the next few days and don’t feel as if you have to finish your plate or eat everything up on Christmas day. How about packing leftovers up for family or have a second Christmas meal the next day? Tip 23: Give excess treats such as chocolates, cakes and cookies to friends and family if the temptation is getting you down!