Tips to Help Your Body Survive the Festive Season
December has begun, which means the festive season is well and truly upon us! Around this time of year, most of the rules for healthy living are happily abandoned and fun and festivities prevail. Overindulging in delicious treats and drinks is almost a given, and exercise is often swapped for late nights and parties. However, enjoying yourself doesn’t mean that you can’t look after your health at the same time. So, today we give you a few tips to help minimise the impact of Christmas overindulgence.
Christmas can be an exhausting marathon for our digestive systems! Regardless of how healthily you normally eat, it’s useful to have a plan of attack in periods renowned for dietary excess.
Here are some tips to keep things under control when it comes to food:
Enjoy your food, but don’t overdo the serving sizes. Be aware of what you are eating and how much you are eating. Try having smaller portions and remember to chew your food really well. Pace yourself and eat slowly. It may just leave you enough room for dessert!
Eat before the party
Arriving hungry to a function offering cocktail food can be a mistake. It can be difficult to keep track of how much you have eaten when enjoying finger food.
Eating a small, healthy meal before you go to take the edge off your hunger so that you don’t end up overeating or binge eating.
Another strategy is to take snacks with you EVERYWHERE. If you always have an option at hand, you may be less likely to be tempted with festive treats.
Have a strategy
Look for lean protein-based choices, such as meatballs, prawns, skewers or sushi. Try to avoid fried or pastry-based foods. Choose vegetable sticks over crackers and choose hummus and vegetable-based dips over more creamy options.
2 courses is plenty
You don’t need to miss out on the fun if the plan is to eat out at a restaurant. An easy way to prevent calorie overload is to limit yourself to one or two courses, such as an entrée and main or main and dessert.
Focus on lean protein and vegetables instead of carbohydrate-heavy pasta, pizza and rice-based dishes. Select main meals that include protein and lots of salad or vegetables.
Try to stay away from deep-fried foods, such as chips, battered or crumbed fish, and schnitzels. Choose steamed vegetables or salads if you order sides over chips or mashed potato.
Give yourself permission to enjoy a few treats
Deprivation doesn’t work and is more likely to end up with you bingeing once your willpower fails you. Instead, take control by giving yourself permission to eat some of your favourite “sometimes” foods. Be smart with dessert – offer to share with someone or choose fruit-based options.
Remember that the key with food is moderation! Make the most of seasonal summer stone fruits, cherries and berries and save the treats like rum balls, mince pies and puddings as a treat for Christmas Day.
Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories, as well as placing a massive burden on your liver. Gram for gram, alcohol is almost as high in calories as fat. Alcohol also stimulates your appetite and lowers your self-control. Plan your drinks and try setting yourself an alcohol limit before arriving at a party.
Another great strategy is to alternate alcohol with water, mineral water or soda water. Drink slowly, or offer to be the designated driver. Enjoy soft drinks and juices in moderation to keep sugar intake down.
It is important to maintain water intake over the festive season to help our bodies, and particularly our livers, process all the extra food and alcohol that is being consumed. Ensure you are getting your 6-8 glasses of water each day to help your liver recover and your body stay properly hydrated.
With all the extra activities over the festive season, keeping up an exercise routine can be challenging. Try to include incidental exercise such as a stroll around the block or some backyard cricket in between feasting. Even short bursts of physical activity will help to boost your metabolism and ward off the effects of the extra Christmas calories being consumed. With daylight savings and warmer weather, the timing is perfect for evening walks.
Sleeping is the time when our bodies recover from the excesses of life. Late nights go hand in hand with the Christmas/New Year period, and this, combined with drinking and eating too much, can affect our sleep patterns. Try as best you can to get enough sleep. Remember that it is ok to politely decline invitations to allow yourself time to rest and recover. Sleep-ins and afternoon naps are also highly recommended to catch up on sleep lost to late nights.
Remember that what you do on Christmas Day isn’t your biggest problem…it’s all the other days in between! You are likely to encounter many treats at random at both home and work, and through the many parties and social gatherings – these situations are more frequent than a binge on a main day and are where you are likely to come undone.
Set yourself some realistic expectations to help you stay on-track and in control over the festive season. You don’t need to deprive yourself to stay fit and healthy through the countless parties and feasts over this period, but you can minimise the impact by being smart and planning ahead.