There’s no need to scrimp on food fun this holiday season. Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy a bit of a splurge...
There’s no need to scrimp on food fun this holiday season. Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy a bit of a splurge without completely derailing your metabolic resilience:
Start your day with some good protein sources (such as eggs, smoked salmon, nuts, cheese) instead of sugary carbs (pastries, mince pies, toast, cereal). If you swing your legs over the side of the bed and hit the ground running on the big day, a smoothie with some protein powder is a fast solution. If you’re going for the shake option, we suggest you go for a ‘clean’ protein powder (preferably not whey as it's dairy-based), mix in your favourite berries and greens with some coconut or almond milk and you’re all set.
Holidays are all about food, drink and socialising… but you don’t want to overload your digestive system to the point you’re completely sofa bound after eating. Keeping mobile and interacting with gravity is key to keeping your system moving. Even just walking around the block, walking the dog, going up and down stairs will do. Aim for 8,000 steps because even though sitting is the new smoking, it is the holidays! You may surprise yourself and manage the full 10,000 or more.
Here are a few tips to help you ‘dodge the podge’ and still treat yourself:
Enjoy your meal - take time to savour the atmosphere and remember to chew well (30 chews per mouthful if you can). This is the first step in ensuring good digestion.
When faced with a buffet of tempting morsels, try and visit only once and use a small plate. Avoid highly refined carbs, and gluten-laden, processed offerings like sausage rolls and pastries, in favour of fish, chicken, salads, vegetable crudités and fruit.
If you’re going to drink alcohol, drink it slowly – so you’re not refilling your glass too often – and have a glass of still or sparkling water so you can alternate your glasses. Being the designated driver is also a sure-fire way to limit the sugar you drink!
Carry some 85 or 90% dark chocolate with you and have a couple of squares when the desserts come out. Even dark chocolate truffles are a more preferable option. You'll silence your need for a treat and get a hit of the happy-hormone inducing theobromine at the same time.
Build in some food-free breaks. Giving your digestive system a rest is a great antidote to over-indulgence. Get busy with something – preferably something that involves movement so you can take a break of 4-5 hours. No snacking on mince pies, nuts or sweets whilst you’re letting your digestion rest!
Talking about activity… Make sure you get outdoors and move after your food break and before your holiday meal to kick-start your metabolism before the ‘big one’.
Composing your festive plate:
Fill half your plate with vegetables – and that doesn’t mean potatoes! The roasties, along with your starchy root veg should be the minor players on your plate. This half is for all those health-filled dark green leafy veg, the rest of the crucifers (brussel sprouts, red cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower), legumes (beans, peas, etc.) and fresh herbs. It’s your chance to see if you can get as many of the 6 colours of the phytonutrient spectrum represented as you can.
Protein and fats are your keys to feeling full. Your protein sources (animal or vegetarian) should make up only around a quarter of your plate and will help curb your appetite for more glutton-inducing fare. A spot of horseradish or hot sauce also helps satisfy the urge to overeat. Nuts will do the job too.
Make sure you have good fats laced through your meal. Think healthy fats from the start of cooking (avocado, coconut, olive oils; unrefined, extra virgin and cold pressed if possible) to the ones drizzled on your salads and veggies (butter, olive, macadamia, avocado). You can add good fats to your meal with nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, brazils, pecans, etc.), chestnuts, meat, poultry or fish as well as avocados and cheese. They may not have a designated space on the plate, but these healthy fat sources should be there in generous amounts.
Keep a quarter of your plate for starchy root veg like those very moreish roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, butternut and beetroots. Great healthy fats for roasting are butter, coconut and avocado oils. Sea salt, crushed garlic, freshly cracked black pepper along with fresh thyme and rosemary are fantastic additions.
And lastly, don’t forget, when it’s all getting a bit too much, and you’ve yet had time to fit in some fresh air and a stroll, you can de-stress with some ‘coherence’ breathing. Full houses, family gatherings and cooking for many can be a source of stress, no matter how much you love your family or love cooking. So, remember to take some time out (it need only be five minutes) for a breathing exercise that regulates your heartbeat, assists digestion and has even been proven to slow the ageing process if used regularly!
Breathe in for 5 seconds
hold for a second
breath out for five seconds
hold for a second
repeat for as long as you have time to
Most of all - have a blast! You deserve it and laughter is life's best medicine!