If Christmas was really just one day we could probably get away with a day of completely letting our hair down, eating and drinking whatever we wanted, not exercising and just simply lazing around. The problem is that for most of us, Christmas celebrations start sometime towards the end of November and only really come to an end after the Australia Day long weekend! So what we’ve really done is extended Christmas out from one day to two months! It is for this very reason that we really do need to be mindful about what we eat, drink and do during this period. I’m all for celebrating and enjoying good food and wine with family and friends but having a mindful approach can be really helpful in ensuring our health and weight are still in check when the kiddies head back to school at the end of January. Here are my top tips for keeping this silly season as sensible as possible.
- Plan ahead
We are lucky enough to live in country of abundance and convenience. This can however very often be the undoing for many of us. Convenience stores offer an array of high calorie, processed packaged foods that can often be extremely tempting if out and about. Parties and get togethers with friends and family doesn’t always cater to each of our needs. A little planning can go a long way. If you are heading out for a day with family or friends, think about healthy, quick and easy snacks that you could bring along to avoid temptation. It comes down to taking matters into your own hands, spending sometime in the kitchen preparing and deciding before hand to be in control of what you put into your mouth. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be something.
- Keep moving
For me holidays present the best opportunity to do something new when it comes to my exercise. With a little more time up your sleeve you might like to get creative. If you’ve got kids why not involve them in the activity too. Try a run or walk along the beach, including the soft sand to wake up muscles that haven’t been used for a while. Hire bikes and cruise around for the day. Find some trails and head out exploring. Want something quick and intense to get your heart rate up? We’ve got a stack of workouts available online for you to do, mostly without any equipment and all in less than 20 minutes! Check them out here
- Practice mindful eating
So often we are guilty of grabbing something to eat and wolfing it down without even thinking or tasting or enjoying whatever it is that we have just swallowed. A few basic rules can really help create mindfulness around eating which in turn can make eating a whole new enjoyable experience to be savoured. Little things like sitting down whenever you eat and removing all electronics around food can be a great start to this process. Other ideas might be to chew slowly and place utensils down between each mouthful. When we eat mindfully we are less likely to overeat and gain weight, great incentive to slow down, relax and enjoy whatever is on your plate.
- Start with protein
Did you know that when we include protein with meals we are less likely to over eat. This is because protein helps us feel fuller and more satisfied, thereby reducing our appetite and hunger. Holiday foods can often be rich in carbohydrates and lack adequate amount of protein. Being mindful about putting a protein rich food like meat, fish or eggs onto your plate first can assist in controlling the overall amount that you eat.
- Bring a plate
This is a sure fire way to ensure that there will be at least one healthy dish at the party! Whilst we cannot be in control of what friends and relatives serve, we can bring some balance by bringing along a healthy (and tasty) dish. This way at least you know you won’t go hungry and won’t be as tempted to indulge in foods you probably wouldn’t usually eat.
- Alternate your drinks
Liquid calories can be one of the biggest traps and alcohol in particular can add a huge amount of calories very quickly. Try alternating your alcohol i.e. in between glasses have a glass of sparkling mineral water (I promise no one will even notice) and you’ll still be a part of the festivities. Red wine is your best choice if you are trying to keep your sugar and carbs down.
- Keep it real
By ‘real’ I’m referring to whole fresh foods as opposed to processed packaged ‘stuff’. If your family doesn’t have traditions around cooking food from scratch, why not introduce this now! Shopping for fresh produce, cooking together as a family and then enjoying the end product can be an incredible experience for the whole family (young and old) and the food tastes a heck of a lot better this way too. Packaged processed foods will often have hidden oils, sugars and a heap of other stuff that is going to make weight and health maintenance during this season a lot more tricky. When you prepare your own food, you know exactly what is in it thereby allowing you to maintain control.
My final word of advice over this period would be to be kind to yourself. Expect that you might ‘slip up’ a couple of times and when you do just shrug your shoulders and move forward. There is no benefit in dwelling on this. The important thing is that when this does happen you don’t then decide to throw it all in but rather that you simply continue on and make better choices at your next meal.
Happy healthy holidays everyone.