6 top tips to enjoy the festive food you love at Christmas
Posted by Justine Clarabut on 14 December, 2021
With Christmas comes the temptation to indulge in festive food. Let’s face it, we are surrounding by festive goodies that are packed with sugar, and all sorts of other processed ingredients that are not so good for us! However, even though as a general rule, we may follow a healthy diet for most of the time, indulging a little over Christmas should be guilt-free, so you can feel good about yourself and enjoy the festivities with your friends and families.
We’ve put together some essential tips to help you set yourself up for success and find that middle ground of moderation without depriving yourself.
1 Give yourself permission
Feeling guilty about eating the food that you love at Christmas is counterproductive! Feeling guilty can increase your stress levels and may take its toll on both your mental and physical health and wellbeing. Giving yourself permission to indulge a little over Christmas will help to reduce or eliminate any negative feelings and be at peace with yourself, meaning you can enjoy the festivities without beating yourself up! We are not saying to eat as much as you can at every meal, there is an element of balance and moderation of course, but by choosing not to feel guilty about that slice of Christmas Pudding or that extra mince pie, will help you to enjoy the moment much more.
Australian dietitian Melissa Meier explains “What you do in terms of nutrition throughout the year leading up to December will have a much larger impact on your health compared to the few weeks leading up to Christmas”
2 Be realistic
If you are too restrictive and put too much pressure on yourself with your food choices at Christmas, you are likely not to succeed! Depriving yourself of the foods you really enjoy whilst others around you indulge, may cause you to overeat: it can trigger a response to suddenly eat more than you would originally have done. You could try the 80:20 principle which means you eat nutritious foods 80 percent of the time (which of course the traditional Christmas roast is full protein, vegetables, don’t forget the sprouts, and fibre) and then you can enjoy the festive treats with the other 20 percent… with no feelings of remorse!
3 Food upgrades
Try adding some nutritious options to pre-drink nibbles or the after-dinner cheeseboard! Wholegrain crackers will help you to feel fuller for longer, clementines, dates, figs and nuts are delicious and nutritious and great on the cheeseboard. Try healthy appetising dips, such as humous which is high in fibre and goes well with vegetable sticks and wholemeal ciabatta! Another tip is to reduce your portion sizes as this will enable you to eat your favourite foods. Also, another thing to bear in mind is the larger the plate, the more we tend to fill it, so the more we consume – try filling large plates with plenty of vegetables to have alongside the roasties and stuffing! Stuck for ideas, here’s some healthy Christmas party recipes or Christmas Snack recipes
4 Eat consciously
Eating your meals mindfully is an awareness and in the mind moment of what we are about to consume! Take the time to look at the food you are about to eat, taste every mouthful and be present during mealtimes. This is essential for the body to absorb nutrients, it helps to reduce bloating, acid reflux and stress! Slowing down and observing what you eat will help to prevent overeating too. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to signal back to your brain that it’s full. So place your cutlery down between mouthfuls and aim to win the slow race at the table!
5 Hydration and alcohol
Set yourself up for success by getting into the habit of drinking a glass of water when you wake up every morning before doing anything else! Warm water with a slice of lemon is invigorating and helps to get your digestion moving! Whilst drinking alcohol, try to drink water between alcoholic drinks and make sure you drink plenty of water before you go to bed. This will help to prevent dehydration caused by drinking alcohol and that all too familiar headache the next day! Remember too that alcohol is full of empty calories, so avoiding eating a meal to compensate for drinking won’t do you any favours! We need the valuable nutrients to help our bodies cope with the toxins consumed and drinking on an empty stomach means you will absorb the alcohol far quicker and intensify the effects of alcohol.
6 Keep active
Be as active as you can over the festive period as this will help burn off the extra calories consumed and will mentally give you a boost too! Walks can be sociable and great for all the family to join in. Being outside in the fresh air is good for our mental wellbeing too! You could also try short bursts of jumping, dancing and sprinting or power walking to really reap the benefits. Exercising regularly will also help you to eliminate toxins from your body.
Christmas is a celebration and optimal wellbeing is about balance and moderation. You don’t need to deprive yourself and you can enjoy indulging in what you love without losing control of what you eat you and drink!