Many of us worry about falling into unhealthy behaviours over the Christmas season. While we need to enjoy some of the festive treats, it is good not to overdo it, as this can make it more difficult to get back on track in January.
Maintaining healthy habits
Here are some practical ideas to maintain healthy habits and achieve balance over the festive season… so that we can have our cake and eat it without feeling deprived, bloated and tired afterwards!
Have a glass of warm water and lemon or a herbal tea upon waking. If you are a tea / coffee drinker, wait to enjoy it after you have first hydrated.
Enjoy a good breakfast
Start the day with a well-balanced breakfast. Use the time off to enjoy a hot breakfast with some veggies such as scrambled eggs with spinach, mushroom and tomato. Including a source of protein at breakfast, such as eggs, Greek yoghurt, nuts/seeds, kippers or smoked salmon, will help to stabilise blood sugar levels to avoid cravings later on.
Sit to eat
Being at home, surrounded by food can foster mindless eating and lead to consumption of excess calories. Make it your goal to only eat when sitting. This will bring awareness to what you are consuming and help to avoid constant grazing.
Serve single portions
Studies show we consume more when eating from a larger packet … such as a box of Roses or Quality Street! If you are enjoying some goodies such as mince pies, chocolates or biscuits, take a pretty plate and serve yourself a single portion to sit and eat from, instead of picking out of pack.
Be prepared with healthier snacks
If you are visiting someone or having visitors, make sure to serve up (or bring along) some healthy antipasto nibbles such as natural nuts, olives, cheese, parma ham, oat crackers and dips such as guacamole or pesto. These are better choices than sausage rolls, deep fried brie, dry roasted peanuts and crisps – yet equally (if not more so..) delicious! You will feel much better afterwards!
Having time off, visiting friends and family, eating out – all can disrupt our daily routine and lead to overeating. Where you may not be able to eat at the same time each day, try to keep track of how many meals and snacks you are having. Aim to enjoy 2 or 3 main meals at a similar time each day minimising snacks. Also plan ahead – if you know you are having a large lunch, have a lighter breakfast.
Be prepared with good quality treats
Avoid large tins of chocolates! Invest in a small amount of good quality dark chocolate and savour it in small amounts. Be prepared with homemade treats where you have control of the ingredients. Ideally have sweet treats straight after a meal rather than in isolation to minimise effect on blood sugars. See Maggie’s festive treats such as her homemade mince meat.
Alcohol – be sensible!
It can be hard to keep track of alcohol consumption if topping up your glass throughout the day and while visiting! Aim to drink a glass of water with each glass of wine or alcohol. Measure out liquors to keep control of units. Serve wine in a small wine glass. Think about when is your favourite time to have that drink – is it with the meal, after the meal? Aim to save your drink to have at this time and really savour it.
The run up to Christmas can involve many social events and eating out. Here are some ideas to consider if going to a restaurant.
- Look up the menu online before you go and decide on what to order in advance – aim to stick to this choice!
- Think about what adaptations you can ask the kitchen to make such as serving a dish with a salad rather than fries or having the sauce on the side.
- Scale back on your other meals that day, if you are out for lunch have a lighter evening meal.
It is the mindless overeating and drinking that leads us to feeling bloated, sluggish and tired over the festive season. However, with some mindful choices, conscious eating behaviours and clever preparation, we can still enjoy Christmas indulgences in a way that makes us feel good!