I have turned my collection of tips and tricks into a cheat sheet, to help you not only enjoy the festive season, but to also come out on the other side feeling refreshed and renewed, rather than uncomfortable and regretful.
For your convenience, I have broken my tips down into various categories, hope they help!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Reducing Feelings of Food Guilt
- Shut off from unnecessary messages as they can fuel feelings of guilt and worry about food
- Let go of the all or nothing mindset and know that everything in moderation is perfectly fine
- Enjoy the entire experience of eating food – not just the taste, take time to smell the food, touch the food and eat the food in a relaxed way
- Eat mindfully away from distraction, look at your food, be thankful for it and eat food slowly feeling the textures and tasting the food
- Celebrate with foods you truly enjoy and look forward to eating
- Share food with loved ones, look beyond health and weight and focus on the positivity of bonding over food
Avoiding Weight Gain
Be mindful of consuming excess alcohol and carbs together
Alcohol is a ‘toxin’ to the body and therefore our body will prioritise processing it and eliminating it from our system, prior to the food we consume around it.
This means, if you are drinking alcohol with a lot of carb rich foods such as sushi, pizza, pasta, chips, bread etc, you will be left with a lot of carbs to burn off, before this is stored as fat.
To help minimise the impacts of alcohol on weight, aim to consume lean protein and veggies when having alcohol.
Limiting carbs, is also a good way to cut back on calories, which are already being consumed in the form of alcohol.
Offer to bring a dish
Bringing a dish is a great way to make sure there is something you will not only enjoy eating but is in line with your health and fitness goals. This can be as simple as a salad for lunch or some fruit for dessert, but will have a powerful impact for you. I am also sure the hosts will be much appreciative of your offer too!
Start the day right
If your events and parties don’t start until lunchtime, having a healthy breakfast or brunch is a good way to set the right foundation for the day. At this meal, I would be looking to get in a good source of veggies, lean protein and some healthy fats. This combo is not only nutrient dense but it is also satisfying and will help to stabilise blood sugar levels until your next meal. Some ideas include:
- veggie omelette with avocado
- smoothie using avocado, spinach, hemp seeds and fruit of choice
- smoked salmon / ham breakfast salad – avocado, tomato, leaves, sautéed mushrooms etc
- veggie ‘fry up’ – mushroom, spinach, tomato, goat/feta cheese and some sauerkraut/kimchi
Know the calorie loaders
While eating too much over all will lead to an intake of excess calories, there are some foods, which are generally add-ons and if portions aren’t watched, can bump up calorie intake, for example:
- A few dollops of mayonnaise or gravy added to salads and meats
- Rum balls, dried fruit and chocolates post dessert
- Fatty parts of roasted meats – eg crackling and stuffing
- Cream, custard, brandy butter and ice cream added to desserts
- Snacking on a handful of roasted nuts, dips with cheese and crackers, while waiting for the main meal
Recovering from over indulging
- Start the day with some exercise
- Stick to light food for breakfast such as a vegetable juice, fruit with yoghurt or poached eggs and spinach
- Keep food simple and light, have salads, soups and avoid heavy creamy based dishes
- Eat small portions regularly to avoid over working your digestive system
- Drink plenty of water to help your digestive system
- Enjoy liver supportive foods such as bitter greens, turmeric, beetroot, cruciferous vegetables
How to Keep Healthy
If you instantly pictured a kitchen bench lined with take away containers ready to be filled, don’t despair; meal prep comes in many forms. Although that approach does work for some, so you do you! Instead, I am talking about having a few meals set aside in the freezer for those days or nights when the lure of convenience food is too strong to ignore. You can start now by cooking some meals, which freeze really well such as vegetable rich pasta sauce, chicken or tofu green curry or frittata.
Keep a loose structure to your meals over the holidays such as aiming for ½ plate vegetables, ¼ protein, ¼ complex carbohydrates and ½ tbsp. fat at each meal. This will help you continue to eat in a balanced way, reduce excessive hunger and help you ease back into routine in the New Year.
Start the day with a cold pressed veggie juice
Before any parties or celebrations can derail your day of eating, starting the day with cold-pressed veggie juice automatically ticks off a serve of vegetables. Importantly also, it can be beneficial to consume veggie juice pre or post a drinking session because veggies contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help metabolise alcohol and can also aid hydration, winning!
Opt for quality not quantity
This is especially true when it comes to sweets. Instead of eating sweet treats because they are there but you don’t necessarily enjoy them, choose which sweets to enjoy and have them in moderation. This is a much better way to still enjoy your favourite sweets but not have them impact weight. This may also mean not eating sweets every day, instead stick to moderation and make it count.
- Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate! Make sure to regularly sip mineral water, have a fresh vegetable juice or coconut water to rehydrate, especially if having coffee!
- Eat eggs for breakfast, rich in Vitamin B which is vital for processing alcohol and will help metabolize the carbohydrate contained in alcohol
- A simple anti-nausea home remedy is some ginger tea
- Snack on banana and avocado on toast for a hit of potassium important for rehydrating
Keep up Movement
- Offer to help clean up after Christmas lunch
- Arrange catch ups which involve movement such as beach walks, game of tennis or bare foot bowls
- Start the day 20min earlier by doing an at home workout
- Walk to and from events if possible
- If you’re in Australia, make the most of day light savings and end the day with a walk (much cooler too!)
Stress Less and Relax
A few tips on keeping stress on the low this festive season:
- Make a plan to help keep you on track
- Be ok with delegating and asking for help
- If things don’t go to plan, improvise and go with the flow, don’t stress!
- Start the day with a healthy protein-rich breakfast to keep blood sugar stable
- If feeling overwhelm, take time out and go for a walk outside or have a cup of tea in solitude
- Start your day with a mindful practice such as yoga or meditation
- Write a ‘to do list’ to help clear the mind
Using Leftovers to Create New Meals
- Shred roast chicken, toss with pasta and a yoghurt dressing
- Use in rice paper rolls with avocado, cashews, cabbage and herbs
- Dice, combine with avocado and salsa and serve in lettuce cups
- Vietnamese style chicken salad is lovely – using shredded chicken, cabbage, carrot, capsicum fresh herbs and tangy dressing
- Dice and use in a pie filling or pasta bake
- Stir through or top a risotto
- Tacos with hummus, coleslaw and mashed avocado
- Shred and add to omelettes
- Shred and add to zucchini fritter mixes
- Add to quinoa fried ‘rice’
- Use in potato or pasta salads
- Add to a tomato ‘bolognese’ style sauce for pasta
- Bake salmon, let cool, flake, add to cooked and cooled potato and a pesto or yoghurt dressing – simple lunch rich in resistant starch.
- Combine salmon with Dijon, chives, mashed potato and make into patties
- Mix with cottage cheese and dill and use as a wrap filling or dip
- Use in salads with left-over meat
- Puree with cannellini beans and use as a dip/spread
- Use in an omelette or frittata mix
- Toss through cooked pasta and top with ricotta cheese for a plant-based meal