December can be a time when all our good intentions go out of the window, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way of enjoying the parties, the Christmas food and even having a few drinks that can still leave us feeling at our best; healthy and energised.
So, if you don’t want to enter January feeling tired, bloated, heavy and zapped of energy, here are some healthy tips to help you survive the festive season:
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Tip No 1. You are only ever ONE meal away from eating healthy again!
Just because we have entered the festive season, it doesn’t mean that every meal is a full-on disaster zone!
Remember that you still have control of most of your meals, so rather than think you have blown it with one Christmas party, which acts as the domino effect that upsets your food choices for the next few days, change your narrative.
One meal does not make you unhealthy! It is just ONE meal out of the 21 meals you will eat in a week. Just make sure your next meal, usually breakfast, is a healthy one.
Changing our narrative is really powerful. Saying “last night was fun, but I am eating healthily again today” is so much more empowering than feeling like you have let yourself down. A healthy body is resilient to the odd night off.
Tip No 2. No snacking in the daytime!
Every time we put food into our mouth, we switch on fat storage.
Snacking between meals contributes to weight gain, not only because we are consuming excess calories, but also because of the effects it has on our body.
Snacking disrupts blood sugar control, increasing the amount of fat we store from our food, as well as decreasing the amount of fat we can burn from the fat stores. Snacking can also INCREASE our appetite which means we gain weight quicker than if we just eat 3 meals a day; this is because snacking increases our blood glucose, but also the hormone INSULIN.
Allowing our body to fast between meals encourages better energy balance as well as making it easier for us to burn body fat between meals. This helps us regulate and maintain our weight far more easily. As an added bonus, research has shown that eating 3 meals a day can also lower our inflammation levels. Stick to 3 meals a day.
Tip No 3. Drink Plenty of Water
An obvious one, I know, but we often forget to drink enough water in the wintertime and especially when we are out of our normal rhythm. Drinking enough water is great for the liver and kidneys and stops us feeling so sluggish. Water can also improve mental clarity, improve digestion and help prevent headaches.
Make sure you have a glass of water in-between each alcoholic drink.
How much? Aim for at least 1.5 litres a day, better still, 2 litres
Tip No 4. Finding your Favourite LOW SUGAR Drink is KEY
Avoiding alcohol can be tricky because the alternatives can be high in sugar which piles on the pounds but can also make us feel more tired or anxious than before. Finding something you enjoy drinking is KEY. When you get it right, your new favourite drink can leave you hydrated and energised. My favourites are:
- Ditch the tonic! Instead add soda water and a twist of lemon to your gin or vodka
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- Soda water with low sugar ginger ale (50:50) with a few drops of Angostura Bitters
- Serve in a large gin glass
- Soda water with a twist of lime and pomegranate
Tip No 5. Take Something Healthy with You!
If you are invited somewhere, why not bring some healthy appetisers with you? I am sure your host will be delighted if you offer to bring something along!
My favourites are:
- Sliced cucumber with cream cheese, smoked salmon and either plenty of black pepper or a little fish roe
- Hummus with healthy vegetable sticks
- Cocktail sticks with cherry tomatoes and mini Mozzarella balls
- Parma ham and melon
- Lettuce boats with cream cheese or mackerel pâte
Tip No 6. Keep your vegetable intake up
Vegetables are your best friend. Not only do they contain fibre, nutrients and powerful plant compounds that support our health, but FIBRE helps to SLOW down the digestion of our food and can keep us FULL-UP for longer. Aim for 5-8 portions a day. A portion size is around the size of your clenched fist.
- Cut celery, peppers, kohlrabi, carrots and other vegetables into easy sticks and keep in the fridge in a tub with a lid. These make eating veggies really easy, as it is normally the prepping that stops us from eating our veggies.
- Make a smoothie the morning after from 1 apple, half an avocado, the juice from 1/2 lemon and a handful of spinach. Mix together in a blender with 200ml water. Pour over a couple of ice cubes and enjoy!
Tip No 7. Eat Something Before You Go Out!
Aim for a high protein snack before you leave the house. Arriving at a party with an empty tank is likely to lead to poor food choices from the GO!
Most party food is high in fats, low in protein and missing healthy fibre and vegetables. Eating a mix of all of these before you go out will reduce your appetite and help you feel far calmer and more relaxed around the food.
My top tips are:
- 2 egg omelette with peppers and onion and a sprinkle of feta cheese
- Smoked mackerel mixed with a little cream cheese eaten with vegetable sticks
- Hummus with carrots, peppers, celery and a slice of rye pumpernickel
- Bowl of tomato soup with extra ’halloumi’ croutons
- Wholegrain gluten-free pitta bread crammed with grated vegetables and goats cheese
Beyond the Festive Season
Remember Christmas is a time for enjoyment and if you find you have indulged rather more than you hoped, don’t beat yourself up. The New Year is a chance to Reset and if you are serious about switching to healthier food choices, I invite you to join my Renew Reset Recharge® Program where you actually eat plenty and feel fuller for longer yet manage your weight effectively. Join the hundreds of others who have found their food freedom on Renew Reset Recharge®.
Dominique Ludwig, NUTRITIONIST MSc, NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST mBANT
Trained at Kings College London, Dominique is an experienced Registered Nutritionist and leading Nutritional Therapist who works with clients globally in Personalised Nutrition, she is also the founder of her established and successful nutrition, weight management and lifestyle programme Renew Reset Recharge®.