A Nutritionist's Guide To Staying On Track This Christmas
With Christmas just around the corner, let’s chat about how you can stay on track with your health during the Festive Season.
The festive season is meant to be a joyful time of the year, whatever that may look like for you, however along with the celebrations often comes over indulging and lack of sleep. The results can be bloating, skin breakouts, fatigue, and beginning the new year feeling exhausted. Although eating well and prioritising your health can be difficult during this time, our in-house Nutritionist Bree, has put together some tips for how she still enjoys the holiday season whilst being mindful of her health goals.
A word on Christmas Mindset
It’s Christmas! You’ve worked hard all year, so now it's time to relax and enjoy your favourite foods with your loved ones. If you have health goals you are working hard to achieve, remember what you do every day matters more than what you do some days. Remember, the holiday period is the time to make memories with friends and loved ones, and most importantly, enjoy yourself.
When it comes to events, it’s okay to say no. Our social calendars are usually quite packed at this time of year, and for many of us, we find ourselves over committing to events we don’t want to go to as saying no can be a difficult thing to do. Think about the events that will excite you the most and fill your cup (rather than empty it) and go to those ones, ditch the rest!
Festive Season Nutrition Tips
Prioritise protein: We have written about the benefits of protein before (see here), and the easiest way to make sure you are getting enough protein throughout the day, is to include protein in each meal. And when it comes to food at Christmas gatherings Bree likes to prioritise roast or grilled meats, and fresh seafood (add a serving to each meal) over processed meats like mini pies, sausage rolls, salami and sausages.
Don’t skip breakfast: Having a healthy breakfast will make it less likely that you’re not going to over eat later in the day/night. Don’t forget on Christmas day either! If you need an easy option, you can’t go wrong with a NH protein shake!
Eat dinner before going to a gathering or party: If you’re not wanting to over indulge, don’t rock up to a party when you’re hungry. Having a healthy meal ensures you can fill up on the good stuff and will be satiated so you won’t overeat on the platters. It’s especially important to have something substantial in your stomach before drinking alcohol.
Cooking: Opt for fresh & homemade versions of your favourite meals, snacks & desserts. Processed & pre-made options often contain excess, sugar, oils and additives. Making your Christmas menu from scratch ensures you know exactly what you’re eating - plus it gives you a chance to bond with friends and family!
Get your veggies in: A little guide Bree likes to stick by to make sure she is still getting enough veg each day, is to eat a serving of salad/veg with each meal. Every Christmas lunch spread has at least one salad, so try and include at least one serving on your plate. Be sure to add a few veggies to your grazing and charcuterie boards, like carrot, cucumber & celery sticks.
Get your fruit in: Make the most of delicious seasonal Summer fruits such as: mangoes, cherries, plums, peaches & berries to still get your 2 serves of fruit. Add them on top of your pavlova or on your grazing platter to sneak some extra in.
Festive Season Lifestyle Tips
Mindful eating: Listen to your stomach – eat slowly and stop when you are satisfied, not full. It takes about a good 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds.
Movement: Whether it is a long walk on the beach or a game of cricket or ping pong with friends, try to stay as active as possible. Feeling extra full or bloated? Feeling like a nap after Christmas lunch? A 10 minute walk after food can help ease bloating & lower your blood sugar, stopping you from getting so tired.
Get your ZZZ’s: It’s important to try and stick to your usual sleep routine, as not sleeping will catch up on you, and make it harder to get back into routine in the new year. Not getting enough sleep can affect so many other areas of your life including your mood, energy levels and appetite, so still aim for your 7-8 hours per night.
Keep hydrated: Aim for two litres of filtered water per day to keep your kidneys and liver happy, and more if there’s a few extra cocktails involved! Although there may be plenty of beverage options available at celebrations, you can make it easier to stay hydrated by bringing your water bottle everywhere with you. Add some electrolytes to your water before bed to aid the loss of minerals like sodium and potassium that alcohol consumption depletes and reduce your headaches and hangovers the next day.
Tips for Alcohol: Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Choose options with less sugar, or pre mixed options with low sugar options like soda water with lemon or lime. There are lots of low sugar pre-made drinks available these days. Make mocktails or a healthy punch with soda, lime wedges, mint sprigs and fresh pineapple juice.
Take time out for yourself: Spending too much time with family and friends can become overwhelming, so make sure to take time out for yourself when you need it.
Note: ****If you find yourself feeling extra anxious, overwhelmed or struggling with your mindset around food these holidays, be sure to talk to a registered Nutritionist or Psychologist.