Eating Well During Festival Feasts
Whichever holiday you celebrate, it's likely to come along with all sorts of temptation in terms of unhealthy foods, drinks and general over-consumption.
Maybe it's eating things you don't really want due to social pressure, finding it difficult to stop, or even using food and booze to soothe the stress of so much to do, financial strain, or difficult relatives.
Exercise can get forgotten when we're out of our usual routine, and we can end up stuffed - in a lethargic food coma. Then on top of this comes the self-berating for letting it happen! Don't worry - we're here with lots of great tips to guard your health and energy levels so you can sparkle all the way through to the New Year!
Start As You Mean To Go On
Start the day with a raw breakfast. How about a green smoothie with 2 bananas, a handful of strawberries and one of spinach, and a dash of omega 3 oils? As you drink it, visualise the day ahead and what you intend to do/eat - it'll help you make conscious decisions all day.
Move it, Move it, Move it!
Whatever you do, don't sit still all day. Turn a quick break into a walk in the woods; do yoga while you watch movies; ask for a standing desk or an exercise bike for Christmas, go ice-skating or have a dance party in your kitchen - just keep moving !
Luckily our dog reminds us to get outside every day - it's a stress buster too!
Peace - A guided meditation or visualisation can take as little as 10 minutes a day, but it really helps with the stress levels - so you're less likely to blunt the stress with cake or alcohol.
Rest - You don't have to go to everything - plan in some nights at home for a bath and a good 8 hours sleep, so you don't exhaust yourself.
Ok, so you're off to a party - how will you cope with all the unhealthy food? Here's a few useful strategies :-
- Survey the whole spread to check out the healthiest options before you choose. Head for veggie crudités and dips, fruits, salads, and animal protein if you eat it. Avoid pastry, anything fried and breads, plus overly sugary or processed foods. Heading for 'real foods' will keep you in a relatively healthy zone.
- Take your own dishes, to make sure there's food you want to eat. Guacamole and crudités will fit in well. A big salad is always welcome. And if you take your own flax crackers you can enjoy the same toppings as everyone else, without the heavy bread base. If it's cow dairy you most want to avoid, contribute a plate of goat and sheep cheeses or a dairy free pudding.
- Pile up a plate rather than picking - you'll eat far less - and if anyone tries to press a food on you, you can show your plate is full and maybe you'll come back later...
- Sit down to eat, chew and savour - but don't sit within arm's reach of tempting nibbles that you may over-do it on.
The Big One - the Family Dinner!
So you're off to a big family gathering - how are you gonna manage this one ? Again you can take some dishes along to give yourself some healthier choices. Or, if it's a roast meal, load up on veggies and meat, or meat alternatives like a nut roast, avoiding the bad fats of roast spuds, and the sugary puds.
Another strategy is to eat a salad before you go, so you're not so hungry when you get there, and it's easier to make good choices. You might want to just enjoy the whole meal - so take some digestive enzymes if your system is not used to so much heavier food. And give yourself a light day next day with smoothies and salads to re-alkalise and re-energise. This way you can still join in with everyone, whilst limiting or compensating for anything that might make you feel unwell.
Non-alcoholic drinks are often very sugary - avoid coke etc., at all costs! Fruit juice diluted with sparkling water or soda water is a nice alternative. If you're going for alcohol, organic wine is probably the best choice (so take some along) followed by beer and then spirits. And remember to keep drinking water as usual - what with alcohol, denser food, spending more time indoors, and central heating, this can be a seriously dehydrating time of year.
This is a good time to take your refillable Sura filter-bottle everywhere you go!
How far you want to be strict with sticking to your healthy lifestyle and how far you want to indulge in your favourite holiday foods and just enjoy, is a very personal thing.
- If you have serious health issues, you may have to stick at the stricter end.
- If you're in pretty good health you can afford to slip a bit.
- And of course you want to keep a healthy balance - to fit in, and to stay feeling good, and to enjoy yourself!
- In the bigger picture, it's hardly the end of the world to eat a few unhealthy foods.
- If you wake up feeling terrible and feel bad about your choices - don't beat yourself up.
- Take it as another sign that generally you are on track and are used to feeling much lighter and healthier these days.
- Don't use a slip up as an excuse to give up altogether !
And always focus on delight rather than deprivation - keep bringing in the delicious, healthy foods wherever you can!