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Nine tips to survive too much food, drink and family this silly season
As we slowly emerge from our lockdown hibernations, the festive season is here to greet us with all the jingle bells and whistles, bigger and stronger than ever before! So the question remains…
Is it possible to enjoy the ‘naughty’ and still be ‘nice’ to your health and wellbeing? In a word, absolutely! All it takes is a little knowledge, better choices and before you know it, you’ll be welcoming in the New Year with a renewed, healthy spring in your step.
How to avoid the dreaded ‘food coma’
There’s no denying it, we all love those traditional festive spreads this time of year – the seafood, ham, pork, roast potatoes, the stuffing, gingerbread men, pavlovas and all the trimmings.
The temptation to have seconds and maybe even thirds is very strong. So how do you make the best choices at Christmas lunch or dinner?
- Eat a healthy, high protein breakfast or lunch (if you’re invited to dinner)
- At the main meal, fill up on lean meats, vegetables and salads
- Limit the stuffing, bread, potatoes and sauces or dressings
- Enjoy a small serve of dessert.
“As we emerge from our lockdown hibernations, the festive season is here to greet us with all the jingle bells and whistles!”
Tips on a healthier way to enjoy a festive tipple
When that special occasion bubbly is flowing and the holiday tunes are in full swing, it’s hard not to indulge in a little too much ‘cheer’ – and feel the unsavoury effects afterwards. So if you feel like you’re going to enjoy an extra glass, here’s what you can do to have your cocktail and drink it too!
- Eat filling meals throughout the day not just nibbles and canapes
- Drink plenty of water between drinks
- Choose dry red or white wine or low-sugar spirits
- Add a sugar-free mixer to your drinks like soda water, diet tonic or Coke Zero
- Make sure you’re well rested before – and after the celebrations!
Make a toast with a non-alcoholic drop or two!
Walk down the aisle of your local bottle shop or even a supermarket, and you’re sure to find a range of alcohol-free alternatives that are just as tasty and satisfying as your favourites including:
- craft beer
This is a growing category so there are more and more delicious non-alcoholic varieties popping up that are specially designed to look and taste like the ‘real thing’ – so prepare to be surprised!
“Enjoying a cocktail or two on a full stomach will help reduce any adverse effects you may feel the morning after.”
Healthy – and mouthwatering – food and snack choices
Eating healthy never has to mean, ‘eating boring’. So whether you’re entertaining at home or you’re bringing a plate to a festive get-together, you can still enjoy delicious food that’s good for you too. Look out for these tasty favourites – or bring your own!
- meat or vegetable skewers
- yoghurt dips
- tomato salsa dips
- smoked salmon.
These are definitely more of a treat – but you can enjoy a few in moderation!
- arancini balls
- corn chips
- sausage rolls
- chicken wings
Delicious alternatives you can bring to a festive celebration
When you’re bringing a plate to a festive occasion and you want to make better choices, there’s no need to panic! We’ve put together some easy ‘swaps’ you can try without compromising on taste. Here’s your quick guide:
- The famous pavlova. Use erythritol (which is a natural sweetener) in the base. Replace the cream with Greek yoghurt and use lots of fruit to decorate.
- Christmas shortbreads. Almond or hazelnut flour are great substitutes. You can also replace half the butter with olive oil.
- The Terrific Trifle. This family favourite can be whipped up with diet jelly or just use the juice of any fruit and mix it with gelatine for a more natural jelly.
- Cream custard: This is easy to make at home with skim milk and sweetener. You’ll find lots of handy recipes for custard online.
“Want to make healthier versions of your favourites? Just swap, don’t remove! For example, try skim milk instead of full cream.”
The festive season shouldn’t be about denying yourself the flavours you know and love. That’s why it’s all about swapping not removing.
- Natural sweetener instead of sugar
- Nut flours (or wholemeal) instead of white flour
- Olive oil for half or all of the oil component.
Staying calm when the silly season hits – and families join in!
No family is perfect particularly during this time of year. In fact, the big, happy families Hollywood has sold us over the years are exactly that; fantastic but… only in the movies. So how do you keep your cool when things get a little tense over the turkey?
Mindfulness is key when it comes to keeping calm and collected around family during the festive season. Here are a few things you can do that may help:
- Listen to understand, rather than just respond
- Breathing from the diaphragm tells your brain you’re safe and reduces stress hormones
- Take some time for yourself away from the party noise
- Meditate for a couple of minutes in a quiet space
- Watch a couple of your favourite videos on your phone if you have to!
“Keeping your cool when things get a little heated with family and friends can start with a few deep breaths in a quiet space.”
Keep your fitness up especially when you’re away from home
If you want to stay fit, you can do it anywhere – motivation and determination travel well (!). In fact, you can fit in a little movement and fun with your family while you’re on your festive break.
- Involve everyone by going on a hike or even kicking a ball around at the park
- Put on your headphones and go for a walk.
Whatever you choose to do, try and persist with it. And remember, sometimes families have a habit of ‘guilt-tripping’ us into not sticking with our healthy routines. So keep those boundaries in check and do what’s right for you and your fitness.
Self care and wellbeing tips to start your new year feeling reinvigorated
As you prepare to say goodbye to one year and welcome a new one, it’s a great time to really reflect on what you need to be a happier, healthier you.
And you can start by looking at your eight dimensions of wellbeing:
- Social and spiritual.
These are vital to how you feel about your world and your place in it. And as you think about each one, ask yourself, what needs more attention, a review or even a total change? Maybe your emotional wellbeing needs some extra TLC because of a stressful year, if so, make some time to talk with a close friend, journal or even meditate.
Or you could be feeling ‘stuck in a rut’ at work, your motivation left the building months ago and you’re looking for a new challenge. You can refresh your CV and put yourself out there again or retrain for a completely new career. It’s all up to you.
Reviewing your eight dimensions of wellbeing is really just about getting honest with yourself about what you need right now, not what society tells you.
“Now is the perfect time to take stock of where you are in life so you can set yourself up for a positive and rewarding new year.”
Have yourself a healthy little festive season – or make it big!
For many, many reasons this can be the most wonderful time of the year – you’re catching up with loved ones, swapping gifts and enjoying laughs and stories over sumptuous meals and drinks. It’s certainly not a time to deny yourself the pleasures and treats this exciting season can bring.
You can still enjoy the indulgent foods without over-eating to the point of feeling uncomfortable. Moderation really is the name of the festive game. So, remember to fill your plate with more vegetables and lean protein and less of the high-fat fried snacks and sugary desserts. And if this season is filled with too much ‘silly’ as high maintenance family members join the festivities, take some time out for yourself where you can breathe, regroup and then enter the fray again, refreshed.
Ultimately, we all know how challenging this year has been so now is the perfect time to really celebrate life and love and be grateful for all the good things and people that surround us.
By staying true to your health and wellbeing, you can set yourself up for the happiest season of all.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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