The festive season often presents itself with many social gatherings which involve plenty of high-calorie snacks, and often high-calorie drinks and alcohol. Here are a few practical ideas to still enjoy the festive season and quality time with family and friends without depriving yourself of the delicious treats that come with it – while maintaining your health!
- Its okay to “let go” just a little bit.
If you feel like having a little treat, then have one! Allow yourself some freedom of enjoying food without having to label foods as “good” or “bad”. It is important to have a good relationship with all food, at all times. You’ve all heard it before – Moderation is key! Depriving yourself is so difficult and often not sustainable. Rather limit yourself to a few treats in the holidays or one treat per day and save your treat for when you are eating with your family or friends so that you don’t end up watching them eat theirs while you are empty-handed.
- Listen to your hunger and satiety cues.
If you are hungry, then eat! Choose foods that are high in fiber, whole-grains, plenty of vegetables, and lean proteins. Including these foods daily will lessen the chance of over-indulging when you do have your treat. If you aren’t sure if you are hungry or if you are perhaps bored, then have some water as you may be thirsty and see how you feel after 10 minutes.
- Don’t skip meals
Skipping breakfast or lunch so that you can over-indulge in the family Christmas meal later does not work. This often leads to high-calorie snacking (which sometimes we don’t consider how much they contribute to your daily calorie intake) and then you still end up eating more calories than you usually would.
- Be mindful
Eat together with friends and family. Don’t busy yourself while you are eating – switch off the TV, put cell phones and iPads down, and be present. Enjoy every bite (especially if it is a treat!) and take note of all the flavours and textures. This will enable you to listen to your satiety cues more easily.
- Continue with your exercise and sleep routines
You can use the opportunity of having your family and friends on leave with you to take up outdoor activities such as nature walks, bicycle rides, snorkeling, soccer, cricket, etc if you feel that you need something a little more exciting than your usual Pilates or Zumba class. It will make it easier to get back on track with your usual exercise routine when you are back at work. The same goes for your sleep patterns. Getting 8 hours of sleep daily can assist with appetite regulation and may help to avoid over-indulging.
- Rethink your drink.
If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly. Alcohol intake tends to increase over most holiday seasons. Again, if you enjoy a G&T by the pool, then have one, or 2 but it is recommended that you stop after that. Two units 2-3 times per week is the recommended “healthy” amount. Remember that alcohol also provides empty calories and often leads to high-calorie snacking.
Be aware of sugary drinks such as soft drinks, sugary cordials, dairy drinks, and even fruit juices. Avoid these and rather opt for sugar-free drinks, and even better – water!
- Stay hydrated
Remember to keep drinking your 8 glasses of water a day to keep you hydrated! Dehydration can make you feel sluggish and may cause you to eat even more as you look for something to pick up your energy levels.
These are occasions to spend quality time with family and friends’ and there are ways that you can do this without being an “anti-social” eater. A treat every now and then is okay, if you get back to your normal eating routine afterward. Remember the 20/80 rule – follow your ideal eating plan 80% of the time, and 20% of the time you can veer off from it guilt-free. Manage the meals that you can control and ENJOY the rest of the festive meals with family and friends.
Keep safe and remember to practice social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful 2021!