Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise and its science, which is my area of expertise, but I also talk about nutrition, sleeping habits and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.
Last week we did a great Seminar at work about how to go through the festive season without giving up on traditions and the many appointments that Christmas comes with. Even though I had this post already prepared, it gave me really good ideas to add to it.
In one of my most successful posts I talk a bit more about healthy eating and why it is so important. Check it out!
Today I am going to give you some tips and ideas to go through the next couple of weeks without exceeding.
- Get knowledge of the meals in advance.
In case you are not hosting, you can always ask the person in charge what foods are you going to eat. By doing this you are getting more information about what to expect. If there is more than one dish you can ask for more of the healthier options and not so much of the less healthy options, and prepare the rest of the day and the day after accordingly. We are not trying to make the host change the menu and we never should try to do that (not even if they are very close to us!), but having a better idea of what’s happening will be of great help for you to not overdo it.
- If you are cooking, include healthy dishes.
If you are hosting, even better. There are so many healthy options you can go for in Christmas. For example, you can cook fish or poultry, you can prepare a nice salad as side, give the option of fruit salad for dessert, etcetera. There are many great ideas to both enjoy the night and have a wholesome dinner.
- If you are eating out, check the menu.
In many cases, you will decide to go out for those Christmas dinners, lunches, or breakfasts. In a way this situation is even better because you won’t feel like you are rejecting your friend of family if you decide to eat something different. Nobody cares if you are eating a big dish of pasta and sauce or if you choose to get the Barramundi with mashed potatoes and vegetables. A good strategy to get ready for this great time out with your beloveds is to check the menu before hand. This way, you will know already what the tempting foods are, and it won’t be a surprise when you get to the restaurant and see the menu. Because you have already chosen the better option for you, the temptation of doing like everyone else and getting the high carbohydrate and fatty foods is going to be lower.
If the restaurant offers a set menu, have a look at it as well so you know beforehand how much food is going to be there and which foods you’d rather fill up yourself with instead of overeating the wrong foods. For example, if there is going to be a few desserts but you have the option of eating more fish before getting to the desserts, you will be getting more protein and good fats than sugar and simple carbohydrates.
If you are going to a cocktail party, eat something before you go. This way your stomach will be already quite full so you will avoid eating too much of the food offered. Sometimes we don’t even realise how much we are actually eating because the serving portions are small.
- Watch out for what you are eating the rest of the day and the day after.
Another strategy to get through a Christmas dinner without giving up any of the dishes is to reduce the amount of food you eat the rest of the day. By doing this you are reducing the total calorie intake. Try to eat something light for breakfast or morning tea if like me you don’t eat breakfast, like a piece of fruit and some nuts, and something light for lunch as well, like a protein of your choice with some vegetables. Avoid having afternoon tea unless you’ve done exercise and even though you are going to eat a lot for dinner, be mindful about it.
As for the day after, try to avoid high-carbohydrate and fatty foods. Most likely your carbohydrate tank is overflowed, so your body will be better off with a bit of protein and healthy fats.
- Eat slowly.
This is something we should always do. It takes a bit of time for the brain to receive the signal from the stomach saying that it’s full. This is the reason why we feel stomach pain after eating because we are too full. Eating slowly will give our body time to send this signal, meaning that we will not overeat and the consequent weight gain. There are some techniques to practice mindful eating that you can practice, but here are some tips to avoid fast eating:
- Share the food and leftovers.
If you share a meal, you will probably eat half of it. I find this the best strategy to avoid overeating. Some of us have been raised with the idea that we must not leave any food on the plate, and it’s difficult to change this habit. By sharing the food with someone you are not only eating less, but you are also sharing love with them.
If you end up leaving something on the plate, you can always pack it away or ask for a doggy bag to take it home if you are eating out and eat the leftovers the day after.
- Include cardio exercise daily.
In my post “the three must do’s to start being healthier: exercise” I talk about the importance of including exercise in your life.
Exercise is my area of expertise as I studied Sport Science, and I can give you many reasons why you should do exercise but in this post I gave you my top 13!
Keep up with your exercise routine even when you are on holiday. A client from my gym has figured out where the available gyms are at all the destinations for his Christmas trip. If this is too much for you, there is always the option of packing your walking shoes and go for a brisk walk every day. Including cardio every day will help you maintain your weight even though you might overeat during this period. It’s especially important to do some cardio the day after you drink alcohol and if you live in the southern hemisphere and it gets extremely hot during the day, make sure you wake up nice and early to get your exercise done!
- Keep an eye in your alcohol intake.
Alcohol is treated in our organism as a toxin, so your body will focus on getting rid of it before it digests the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and protein). Like we learnt already in the previously mentioned post “The three must do’s to start being healthier: eating well” the first metabolic route our body uses to burn energy is the carbohydrates, and we won’t start burning fat until our body is done with the carbohydrates. If we have a high carbohydrate meal our body doesn’t get to burn the fat, and if we exceed with the carb intake, the body will transform them into fats and store them in the fat tissue right away. When we drink alcohol, this process of burning carbohydrates stops until the body is done with the alcohol, meaning that the carbohydrates you ate will most likely become fat. Apart from many other unhealthy factors, alcohol plays a key role in weight gain and we must be mindful about how much alcohol we have and which types of food we have before and during we drink alcohol.
- Tips to decrease the amount of alcohol.
Here are a few tips to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink even though you will drink during Christmas:
- Drink a glass of water between drinks.
- Choose drinks with less amount of alcohol, like medium strength beer instead of full strength.
- Every alcoholic drink, drink a non-alcoholic drink. There are many non-alcoholic beers that taste really nice!
- Choose a low-sugar mixer or water when drinking spirits.
- Stay hydrated! Alcohol dehydrates you, so make sure you have water very handy to avoid it. It will also reduce the effects of hangover the day after. Drink water before, during, and after you drink alcohol.
- Stick to the Australian recommendation of not drinking more than 4 drinks in one day. For more information about alcohol consumption, please visit: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-advice/alcohol
- Enjoy your time and if you do exceed, don’t stress out!
Even if you have tried your absolute best to behave but you still exceeded, put on weight, and felt like you did not behave, don’t stress! The most important part of this festivity is to enjoy time with family and beloveds, especially after such a long time being in lockdown. Have fun, be happy, and if you can, stay as healthy as you can!
Next week’s post is about new year’s resolutions. I will give you a few tips about how to put them on paper, and I will share my personal ones to hopefully give you some inspiration.
That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoy these tips! If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment! Thank you!