As the holiday season begins, the ingrained fear of weight gain comes along with it. So why not look at it from a different light and finally enjoy this time of year sans worries and obsessive thoughts about weight?
I am a firm believer that this time of year should be no different to any time of year. However, with regards to eating habits, this time of year definitely shows everyone’s “naughty” or “nice” mentality when it comes to food choice, which shouldn’t be the case. Practising moderation, listening to your body and acknowledging your preferences as well as maintaining all your healthy habits are things that you should keep life-long; free of any “yearly” resolutions with the mantra “I will exercise more, eat better and lose those unwanted pounds”. For those who need a bit of guidance and support during this time of year, here are my top holiday hacks:
1. Avoid ditching your healthy habits!
The holiday season doesn’t call for bidding farewell to well-balanced habits that you’ve maintained, so avoid the “all or nothing” attitude. Try to keep up with your activity levels whether it involved outdoor activities or indoor workouts. As for the festive eating, keep your indulgences to that specific event or occasion. For example, if you plan to attend a Christmas cocktail party in the evening, make sure you have a nourishing breakfast and a balanced lunch. Find the balance in your day’s meals by enjoying tasty treats without completely writing off nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains daily.
2. Never show up to a party hungry.
This is a “must-do” when it comes to being mindful of your portions and choices at any buffet or festive events. When your sugar levels drop and you’ve exceeded more than 4 hours without a meal, chances are, you will be sprinting to that buffet, splurging on anything and everything to satisfy your hunger levels. Have small snack prior to your event such as some yoghurt and nuts or 2 sandwich sized crackers with cottage cheese or avocado to keep your hunger levels at bay. You are less likely to over-indulge and more likely to be wary of your choices.
3.Make healthy swaps at events.
Firstly, take your time to explore what’s on offer. Then choose a small plate instead of a dinner-sized one to control how much ends up on your plate. Next, opt for salsa or yoghurt dips instead of cheese dips. Go for lean meat or plant-meat skewers, blinis, smoked salmon, vegetables sticks and olives instead of mince pies, fried pastries, spring rolls and cheese sticks. A little portion of fried finger food won’t kill your health at all but be picky with your choices and avoid eating everything on offer. As for beverages, good options would include champagne, a glass of red wine or a small serve of mulled wine. A single gin and tonic, cosmopolitan and vodka soda with lime are far better options than a White Russian, eggnog or a pint of beer or cider.
4. Take on habits that prevent overindulging.
At a function, aim to stand away from the buffet table and have conversations away from the food. Hold a glass of water in your dominant hand and a clutch or phone in the other as you will nibble less and are less likely to always grab every choice of finger food being passed around. Once your plate is empty, get rid of it when you’ve finished eating. And finally, learn to say “No, thank you!” if you feel satisfied.
5. Be wise about your “morning-after” plan.
If you’ve had a ‘blowout’ meal the night before, NEVER feel guilty and simply reset your body. Get back into your normal eating and exercise routine and remember that one or two days of celebratory meals won’t be disastrous to your waistline!
With all the uncertainty we are currently facing with this pandemic, I truly hope you all manage to spend time with your loved ones this holiday season. Happy Holidays from us all at Nutrition A-Z!