‘Tis the season to be jolly!’. The festive period may offer a chance to take a break and have more time to rest and relax. But it can also bring extra work, pressure and stress. Jane Nodder, Nutrition Practitioner and Course Director for our online MSc programmes, offers some timely reminders for staying healthy at this busy time of year.
Eat Real Food
Stick to a regular eating pattern as far as possible. Base meals on natural, ‘real’ foods that provide plenty of nutrients and keep you fuller for longer, leaving foods high in sugar and fat as festive treats. It’s probably not the Christmas dinner itself that leads to over-eating and possible weight gain, but the snacking and grazing we do over the whole festive period.
Make sure you never go hungry. Keep in touch with your appetite and think before you reach for that next snack. Ask yourself – what do I really want to eat before saying ‘yes’ to that next mince pie? Do your main Christmas shop as late as possible so that you don’t have extra food and drink around for weeks before Christmas comes. And consider buying online to avoid the impulse buys and save time and money!
Prepare to Party
Always have a pre-party snack with protein and carbohydrate before heading out to that festive ‘do’. Try a pot of plain yoghut with a banana, some oatcakes with nut butter, a small bowl of muesli, fruit with a few nuts, or a bowl of chunky vegetable and lentil soup. Visit the food table just once and put the food you are going to eat on a plate. And after the party, get back on track with regular meals. Follow the 80:20 principle –eat healthily 80% of the time to survive the other 20%.
Make a conscious effort to drink 1-1.5 litres of non-alcoholic fluids a day (herbal teas, water flavoured with lemon, or a little juice or cordial). Alternate any alcoholic drinks with juice or water if you don’t want to hold an empty glass. Add sparkling water to wine to make a ‘spritzer’. And if it helps, offer to be the driver!
Staying active helps with digestion, managing stress and lifting mood. So rather than hibernating in front of the screen over the festive season, round everyone up, pull on those walking shoes or get the bikes out, and head out the door at least once every day.
Remember – Christmas comes just once a year. Relax, chill and keep a sense of perspective. Allocate jobs and get people to share tasks. Take short cuts. Get enough sleep and make time every day to get away from the Christmas whirlwind. It will come again next year!
Wishing you a Healthy Christmas and a Happy New Year.