With Christmas Day just one month away the silly season has well an truly started, with Christmas parties and end of year dos popping up every weekend. These times of year the abundance of food, alcohol, late nights and long days at work finishing up your years work, can take a toll on the body. It is easy to get run down and healthy eating soon moves to the back of your mind as sometimes foods become part of your everyday routine. It’s important to remember that this time of year is meant to be spent enjoying time with friends and family, celebrating making it through another year, and not about calculating the calories in that fruit mince pie or cocktail. Instead use my tips to breeze through this silly season, keeping fit and healthy, whilst devouring all the delicious produce this season has to offer. You will also find my quick, easy and nutrient packed Christmas lunch ideas at the end of this post to save you searching the internet for your Chrissy inspiration.
- KEEP ACTIVE! My number one tip is pretty simple, as keeping active will help burn off all those extra calories we are adding to our diet and invigorate you to get through those long days. If you are attending lots of functions in the evenings and you usually hit the gym after work, get that gym session out the way in the morning, you will have less excuses and feel refreshed and ready to take on the world. You don’t have to go full blown aerobic super women/man, even simple forms of exercise can help keep you healthy and happy such as utilising the extra time on weekends and public holidays to get out and walk/ride in the sunshine. If you are catching up with friends schedule a walk along your favourite beach or walking trail instead of a lazy Sunday lunch. Instead of napping after Christmas lunch enjoy active time with your family, such as backyard cricket, table tennis or kicking the footy. Being active will help shake that sluggish feeling that seems to follow us around through December and January, and will likely trigger you to make better choices or feel more at peace with the other scrumptious foods you would like to consume.
- Have your Christmas pudding, just not the whole thing. Moderation is key to balance in all parts of life, but comes into play particularly in times when we are exposed to celebrations on a regular basis. In many cultures food is a central part of celebrating, so it is hard to avoid making fueling your body right a difficult task. Christmas only comes around once a year so have a slice of Christmas pudding but leave it at one serve and really savor it. If there are an array of options, think about what you really feel like and choose that. The issue with this time of year is that you are often going to several events so you will have your chance again to eat anything you’ve missed out on.
- Nourish your body around events; aim for 80/20. To ensure your body isn’t missing out on vital nutrients ensure you are packing your meals full of fresh produce. If you are going out for dinner have a nutritious breakfast and lunch. if you are going out for lunch, have a nutritious, filling breakfast and a lighter dinner based on vegetables. By eating 80% healthy and 20% not so healthy you are keeping balanced and fueling your body full of great nutrients and providing your brain with enjoyment. If you feel like your self control is wavering when you head out to nibbles and drinks, and your body is starting to miss out on vital nutrients from a lack of fresh produce, then eat before you go out. By having a small meal focused on fresh vegetables and lean meats before you go to an event you will have at least eaten something nutritious, and will likely be to full too eat an abundance of canapes. Remember to focus on what you really feel like and how hungry you truly are and you will always make the right choice.
- Get rid of leftovers! Whether it’s Christmas lunch or an end of year dinner party, foods you would not usually have in the fridge/pantry seem to creep into our lives and we end up eating off of these leftovers for weeks after the festive season is over. Get rid of any foods that act as temptation for you. If you can’t stop at just one, firstly get it out of sight, and if that doesn’t work try freezing it or gifting it to neighbors/friends etc. Freezing leftover Christmas food also reduces wastage, either freeze the products individually ie ham slices or shredded chicken, or create some dishes from the leftover such as quinoa fried ‘rice’ , mexican shredded chicken or vegetable breakfast muffins which can also be frozen. Removing temptation from the house stops a week of Christmas and New years food enjoyment turning into a month long gorge.
- Serve and choose wholesome, nutritious food. When you are out try your best to choose wholesome and nutritious options. To help you do this look for dishes based on vegetables, legumes,and whole grains, rather than pastries or processed grains. High fibre options will provide an abundance of nutrients, and will keep you going for longer with slow release energy. If you are hosting dinner parties or Christmas lunch opt to serve wholesome and nutritious food. By providing delicious and healthy options you can ensure you are getting exactly what you need and I promise you, your guests will thank you for it. See below for my perfect Christmas spread:
Entrees aren’t essential, but an easy mix plate of crudites (vegetable sticks) such as carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, capsicum and broccoli with hommus will keep people busy whilst you put the finishing touches on your dishes.
And for dessert try my simple and nutrient packed summer fruit and gingerbread crumble served with vanilla bean yoghurt or custard.
Above all remember to enjoy yourself this season, and focus on fabulous times spent with family and friends rather than the daunting food experience. Keep active and eat mindfully, the rest will take care of itself.