We consulted Michelle Theodosi, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian at The Lifestyle Dietician for her best tips on making sure the most wonderful time of year isn’t the most fattening time of the year!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – A time to spend with close family and friends, taking a break and enjoying delicious food. With so much to look forward to, this can also bring about stress and anxiety around maintaining healthy habits.
Now, while I am a big believer of ‘everything in moderation’ – When it comes to Christmas day, what is only one day can often creep into the whole week or extend out to the entire month! It is not what we eat at one meal or on one day, but the habits we establish over longer periods that set the tone for our health.
As a Dietitian, I hear many of the same challenges come up for my clients so today I thought I’d share some of my favourite ways to maintain healthy habits (without deprivation) over the holiday period.
DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES
Alcohol tends to go hand in hand with the festive season. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass or two of your favourite bevvy on Christmas Day. However, we often find our glass being topped up multiple times and easily losing track of how much we’ve had.
A great habit is alternating your boozy beverages with a non-alcoholic option. This will keep you hydrated, halve the calories and leave you feeling a lot brighter the next day. Try soda water with fresh mint and lime or even Kombucha. Kombucha is a flavour packed fermented tea which contains little to no sugar and in some cases may provide beneficial bacteria for your gut! Try mixing some fresh fruit with kombucha for a simple yet refreshing mocktail.
UPGRADE THE NIBBLES
There is almost ALWAYS something to nibble on before the main meal – often a selection of the not so healthy variety (cheese-boards, chips, creamy dips…) leading us down an easy path of mindless munching.
If you struggle to avoid these (or don’t know when to stop) – bring a healthy platter that you can eat freely. Think healthy dips, veggie sticks and seasonal fruit. Upgrading your grazing board with foods that provide more colour and variety is an easy way of boosting your vegetable intake without overdoing it on the calories.
Learn more about how to build a healthy grazing board
KEEP YOURSELF SATISFIED NOT STARVED
One of the most common mistakes people make is ‘compensating’ for an upcoming event by limiting what they eat earlier in the day. This is a BIG no-no! This is guaranteed to leave you past the point of hunger and send you into a state of being absolutely ravenous once the main event rolls around – leaving you more vulnerable to filling up on the nibbles, take an extra-large portion and eat way past the point of satisfied to absolutely stuffed! Don’t leave your eyes bigger than your stomach – keep yourself satisfied across the day with regular meals and snacks like you would on any other day – oh and don’t forget to drink plenty of water (dehydration can also lead to overeating).
“Mindful Eating” has become quite the trend in 2020, but what is it exactly? Taking a brief moment before to stop and check-in with your hunger or fullness before eating – and being aware of any emotions you may be feeling can help us to make a more conscious choice when filling our plate. Often a brief pause before grabbing something to eat can often reveal that the motivation behind eating may not have been hunger at all but instead something else – boredom, stress or even just thirst!
Read more tips on how to deal with emotional eating
Ask yourself a simple question each time you eat: “Am I hungry?” or “Is there something else that will meet what I truly need?” This simple questioning is often enough to help you control the types and volumes of food you eat – or to redirect your attention if it wasn’t hunger to begin with.
Want to learn more about mindful eating – see our free guide
TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOU
Self-care is so important – a phrase we hear often but don’t put into practice as much. With the year that was 2020 almost behind us and all of the additional pressures and stressors that compound during the holiday period, it’s important not to forget to look after numero uno – YOU! Meditate, take a bath, go for a swim at the beach or book in for a massage or facial. It’s important to slow down and do something for you!
I hope these tips help you make the most of the merry season.