Does the approaching Christmas break make you feel overwhelmed?
Do you struggle to continue working towards your health goals during the holidays?
Our dietitian Kristin has shared her top 5 tips to looking after yourself (and your health) this Christmas:
Don’t arrive at Christmas parties absolutely starving
It can be tempting to skip a meal or meals prior to events as a way to reduce your calorie consumption. However, consider the following:
Will skipping breakfast make you more hungry and more likely to overeat at Christmas lunch?
Do you know there will be good food options available?
Is there a chance this event will not be a fully catered meal, serving only “nibbles”?
Skipping meals can create a setting where you are more likely to overindulge, possibly on foods that you may not consider good choices.
Make healthy choices at the meals you can control! For example, you may have a light breakfast to manage your appetite for the 5-6 hours before you sit down to Christmas lunch!
Alcohol should always be enjoyed on your terms
If you want to enjoy alcoholic beverages this Christmas, then do so! (Responsibly of course).
If you are considering reducing your alcohol intake OR just the calories from alcoholic beverages this Christmas, you might try the following:
- Choose lower alcohol % volume beverages eg. A mid strength beer 3.5% instead of an XPA 5.0%
- Choose low or zero sugar pre-mix beverages
- Try a non-alcoholic pre-mix! There are now a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages and mixers available at your local supermarket
- Take your own alternatives eg. Kombucha or your favourite Soda Stream mixer!
- Make your own mocktail or low alcohol cocktail! You can make a Spritz using a low alcohol prosecco 0.5% and soda water (and chosen liquor, fruit juice, garnish etc).
Remember to continue to hydrate with non-alcoholic fluids between drinks this summer, especially if your social event starts early!
Avoid skipping all meals to “drink your calories”.
Drink responsibly, always have a designated driver or call a cab!
Make time for yourself
Self-care around the festive season is often neglected due to the general chaos around this time of year.
If you have under-estimated your social calendar this year you may need to:
- Ask for help, take a *gasp* store-bought plate of food if you do not have time to prepare something yourself
- Delegate some tasks if you realise you have over-committed yourself.
- Remember it’s okay to say no, to change your mind and to skip an event if you don’t want to go!
Aside from surviving the event schedule, it is still important and worth your time to actively make space for your own needs:
- Make time for your sleep schedule
- Start each day with a blank slate, life is not “all or nothing”. One day of Christmas events at every mealtime will not undo all your hard work, but throwing in the towel afterwards certainly could!
- Make time for “me time”, always find a balance and use your social energy how you want to!
- Make time for your usual exercise, even if the gym is closed!
Be prepared to plate up!
The festive season is guaranteed to over-cater an event at least once. Additionally, it can be difficult to determine your appetite in social settings where food is on display.
Grazing tables and cheese boards can result in consumption of unknown quantities of foods and confusion around how hungry you are afterwards.
In this setting, my top tip would be to “plate up” your foods where possible so that you can visually register the food and what you have eaten.
- If you feel that your eyes are bigger than your stomach, take a break, stretch your legs and give yourself time to figure out what your appetite is.
- If you aren’t hungry, you don’t have to finish your plate!
- Keep your leftovers and save yourself the hassle of cooking a meal at another time. (It’s essentially meal prep!)
- Be prepared with Tupperware if you really want to take advantage of leftovers this Christmas!
Don’t assume you are alone in wanting to make health-conscious choices
Most people struggle with finding a balance between their health goals and being polite at social events.
Don’t be afraid to make a choice for yourself that may seem unpopular – you’ll likely find a few friends thinking the same way as you!
- You can say no to alcohol even if you aren’t driving or taking medications
- You can bring your own food or drink alternatives to suit your own needs and preferences
- You can say no to seconds, have a smaller serving of food or not finish your plate
- You can skip an event or leave early without anywhere to be urgently
Kristin Maggacis – Dietitian @ Medsana (APD)