A personal trainer once told me about a client of his who would put on 5kg over the two week Christmas period and consequently started the New Year feeling tired, sluggish and bloated. At this time of year, all our healthy eating and fitness plans can get thrown out of the window as we find ourselves surrounded by a plethora of food and drink and a seemingly endless round of Christmas celebrations.
I love a good party and have always struggled with knowing when to stop eating in this environment. It’s all very well keeping the cupboards clean and full of healthy food at home, but come this time of year there are numerous boxes of chocolates, bottles of wine and platters of party food circulating, providing temptation around every corner. I have learned a few strategies over the years to help me keep my wellness and nutrition balanced through this period, so I have put together a few tips to help you start the New Year feeling fabulous instead of fed up (literally!)
- Start every day with a nutritious, balanced breakfast - studies have shown that eating breakfast can be beneficial in reducing appetite and increasing energy for the day ahead.
- Move – You don’t have to go to the gym every day but pack as much incidental exercise into your day as you can. Walk the dog, walk to the shops, take the stairs. Instead of sitting down after dinner, go for a walk around the block or set up a game of backyard cricket.
- Eat mindfully – be conscious of what you are eating. Keep portion sizes small, sit down to eat and eat slowly. Enjoy your food.
- Put leftovers away before you start to eat.
- Wait 20 minutes before having second helpings or dessert as it can take this long for the food to hit your stomach and signal to the brain that you are full.
- Enjoy a little bit of the food you like that may not be so nutritious, you shouldn't feel that you are depriving yourself as this may lead to overeating on sweet and salty foods.
- Decide what you are going to eat before you eat it – try not to open the biscuit tin or fridge door every time you walk past it! Stick to regular meals and nutritious snacks.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and salad with lunch and dinner, they should take up half your plate.
- Drink a glass of water between every alcoholic drink.
- Send surplus food (in my case chocolates and cake!) out the door with guests or to neighbours!
- And remember – Just because it’s there doesn't mean you have to eat it! You have a choice in the matter. Nourish your body by providing it with more of the food it thrives on, this will make you feel more vital and energetic and help you to enjoy the time with your family and friends.