Good food and drink is undoubtedly the focus of any festive season gathering where indulgence is usually the name of the game, according to dietitian Kate Save.
While it is easy and even expected to over indulge at Christmas, there are ways to keep your health and fitness goals on track at this time of year.
Accredited dietitian, exercise physiologist Kate Save understands the desire to enjoy the silly season with some relaxed rules, but knows the importance of keeping a little indulgence from becoming an all-out-blow-out.
“Christmas is the time of year that everyone stops to relax with friends and family, often putting their health goals on hold until after the New Year so they can feel as though they can really enjoy the season,” Kate said.
“While enjoying Christmas and the amazing food and drink is fantastic, it can leave us feeling sluggish, unmotivated, unhealthy and off track, with that feeling following us well into the New Year.
“Healthy eating is often viewed as boring and tasteless, but a little effort can go a long way, making it so that you not only feel better at this time of year but you aren’t missing out on enjoying great tasting food.”
If your goal this Christmas is to stay healthy, read on for dietitian Kate Save’s top tips to keeping you healthy and on-track this festive season.
Prepare your own snacks from scratch
Instead of loading up on pre-packaged goodies from the supermarket, try preparing your Christmas snacks from scratch. It’s amazing what you can create with healthy ingredients and how yummy things can taste! In doing this, not only do you limit or completely omit the additional nasties such as preservatives and artificial ingredients, you can control the addition of sugar, simple carbohydrates and bad fats. Some examples could include oat and coconut Christmas tree cookies or creating your own low-carb pide or kale chips served with homemade dips. See some recipes below for some more inspiration!
Stay hydrated to avoid over consumption of alcohol
It goes without saying to ensure you’re properly hydrated throughout the festive season. It is so easy to over-indulge in alcohol and drink less water, further dehydrating us as well as increasing calorie intake. Water plays an essential role in weight-loss. Hunger can often be mistaken for thirst, so staying hydrated will assist in reducing any tendency to over-eat. It also increases metabolism and energy levels as well as keeping you from drinking other high energy and sugary drinks. If you struggle to get water in, try infusing a bottle with slices of fruit and vegetable such as lemon and orange, or lemon, cucumber and mint. If water is still not going to work for you at Christmas, swap out alcohol and try some natural Kombucha with no added sugar instead.
Don’t let the holidays be your excuse to stop moving and ruin your routine. Keep your exercise regime or activity in check during the holidays to prevent weight gain and to stay focused. Aim to knock out some activity in the morning by going for walks, paddle boarding, swimming at the beach or just getting outdoors. Not only will this be great for your waist line but your mindset as well, helping to keep your head in the game to stay on track.
Be creative with healthy snacks
There are so many fun ways to get fruit and vegetables out on the table that are inviting to eat. For example, you could create a rainbow fruit platter, serve dip with crudités, make strawberry Santas, create a vegetable Christmas tree (with capsicum, carrot, cucumber sticks) or a kiwi and berry wreath! There are so many options, so go on, get creative.
Downsize your plate
To avoid over-filling your plate, opt for a smaller sized one. We often eat what’s in front of us just because it’s there. A smaller sized plate will prevent you from eating too much when you’re no longer hungry.
Load up your plate with nutritious options first
When filling up your plate, try to opt for the most nutritious options available before loading up on the less nutritious items. You will be more likely to consume a lot more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff.
Be strategic with your eating
To avoid over-eating try to adopt these little tricks while you eat:
- Don’t fill up your fork until you’ve finished chewing your last mouthful
- Try to eat until you’re 80% full
- Drink water 30 minutes before your meal
- Try having a break from eating before finishing meal
It takes time for your brain and stomach receptors to register what you’re putting in your mouth. Eating more slowly means you’ll become full before overeating as your body has time to send signals of satiety to the brain to tell us to stop eating.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is absolutely essential to weight-loss as it aids in balancing hormone levels, assists with maintaining a normal appetite as well as metabolism. Not to mention, being tired impairs our judgment, often causing us to skip exercise, drink more coffee and crave more food causing us to over-eat. Aim for 7-9 hours sleep per night over the Christmas period to ensure your body continues to function optimally.
Don’t let any indulgence de-rail you
Often, one or two days, or even a week of over-indulging sets us back mentally. Be kind on yourself and don’t let this stop you from getting back on track once the festivities are over.
Be realistic and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
During the Christmas period it’s inevitable that your progress or routine will be effected in some way and this is perfectly fine. After all, this is a time for enjoying the company of family and friends so most importantly, remember to enjoy yourself.
Try these healthy oatmeal Christmas tree biscuits.
The Carousel would like to thank Kate Save who is a dietitian for Be Fit Food – a real-food rapid weight loss program.