Holidays are different. Only those with an unusually strong will (or a wired jaw) can keep holiday eating from infiltrating a healthy eating plan. Unless you avoid parties, gatherings and the grocery store altogether, it is reasonable to expect that a mince pie or two will slip in your mouth. And that’s fine. It’s better to have that mince pie than to be grumpy – or worse, sanctimonious –while everyone else ploughs through the cheese straws, sausage rolls and wrapped sweets. But you can enjoy festive food and still be in control. Below are some suggestions- for parties, restaurants and at home – that might suit you as you continue with your quest for good health and good eating throughout the festive period.
1) Be prepared. Decide ahead of time what you will and will not eat. For instance: “ I will have a mince pie, 1 sausage roll and a glass of Prosecco.” It will be easier to do this if you have a wee bowl of vegetable soup, or a small handful of nuts and a piece of fruit beforehand.
2) Try and use a small plate, keep to one portion and no second helpings unless it’s actually a healthy option such as lemon-dressed broccoli (it may happen!).
3) Eat your protein first, followed by vegetables. Save the starchy carbs like stuffing and roast potatoes for last. Don’t deny what you like/love, but do take a smaller portion.
4) If you don’t have room for dessert, don’t feel pressured into eating one. People sometimes put pressure on us if they want a dessert or a big glass of wine. It makes them feel better about what they are doing. You are in control.
5) Don’t get completely full. Stop when you feel about 80% full (satisfied, not stuffed).
6) If you are doing the cooking during the holidays, don’t go wild with the number of courses and amount of dishes. It’s easy to feel like you need to make nibbles, starters, mains with loads of sides, plus several types of desserts (to accommodate everyone’s likes), but no one needs all that choice, or food. Less is more. And less stressful.
7) Some people might like to pick one meal a day that is indulgent. For instance, a light breakfast of fruit and yogurt, a supper of salad with a bit of lean protein, and a rather sumptuous meal smack in the middle of the day. But perhaps not everyday!
8) Move, walk, stretch. Get a jump on the New Years’ resolutions and make a plan to be physically active during the holidays. Pop on a fitness DVD, crank up some music, or if we are lucky with the weather, get out in the fresh air for a long walk. You will feel much better about any over-indulgences if you are active through out the festive period.
9) Include some metabolism boosting spices and drinks: three cups of green tea may up your metabolism (potential for calorie burning) by 10%. Cinnamon, chillies, ginger and black pepper are also known for their metabolism boosting properties. Interestingly vanilla, cardamom and nutmeg seem to fool your brain into thinking it is having something sweet. Pop a little into a black coffee.