As Christmas gets closer some of you might be wondering about what foods you can eat on festive days. It’s easy to forget about healthy eating at this time of the year, when celebration and indulgence are all around us. “I’ll be healthy next week”, we tell ourselves as we reach for another treat.
But what if you didn’t have to compromise on health or taste? In New Zealand we are lucky to have Christmas in summer when there are so many delicious healthy foods available. Think about new ways to prepare them to create something special – how about some salmon with pesto sauce with a nice salad and new season potatoes, followed by garden fresh berries with natural yogurt for dessert. The options are limitless. I have given you some recipe ideas below.
I’ve also put together some tips and thoughts for the festive days and holidays so you don’t have to worry about gaining weight or not feeling so good this year. I believe that the middle path is the best way – everything in moderation. And moderation doesn’t mean having a treat every day as then it wouldn’t be a “treat”, right?
Here are 10 tips for indulging the healthy way….
1. Don’t pick at food and overeat: We eat more when we socialise, especially if food is freely available – it’s easy to keep on picking at food. Instead of only focusing on the food, take pleasure in the company of your fellow guests. Put your cutlery down while talking and listening.
Tip: Only eat until you are 80 per cent full, then listen to your body, stop eating and resist any further temptations.
2. Enjoy your special food for one day: There are some foods that we only eat at Christmas. Enjoy your festive food and treats – it is okay if it is only on Christmas day – but remember it’s just one day. If you buy so much ‘treat’ food and eat the same way over the entire holiday season, you will most likely gain weight and upset your digestion.
Tip: Enjoy your special food as a treat but keep it to Christmas Day only. And remember while you do that to enjoy your food. Don’t feel guilty – feel free to really enjoy it. Then on Boxing Day, eat light and healthy food again – starting with your usual breakfast (but only if you are hungry, otherwise wait until you are hungry). That way you will soon be back on track!
3. Don’t make excuses: Do you look upon Christmas and similar days as an excuse to over indulge? You don’t have to deprive yourself but try to stay in your zone.. Remember food is nourishment rather than a treat or reward.
Tip: Find other ways of rewarding yourself that don’t involve food.
4. Don’t be influenced by others: Our immediate table companions can influence both the amount of food we serve ourselves and how quickly or slowly we eat it. We mimic the behaviour of the people with whom we are eating.
Tip: Don’t fall into this trap – stick to what you know is best for you. Be smart, sit next to someone you know has healthy eating habits if you can and enjoy sensible portions.
5. Eat a healthy breakfast on Christmas morning: Include at least one fruit or vegetable and a good amount of protein such as eggs or nuts. This will help stave off hunger and prevent overeating high-calorie snacks while waiting for the big lunch or dinner to be served. It will also set up your metabolism to work well for the day.
6. Bring some of your own food if you are invited: Bring a nutritious dish to the festivities; you can offer beforehand to provide a salad or vegetable side dish so you know there will be at least one healthy dish at the meal. Pack a snack to bring with you in case you can’t find anything healthy to nibble on between meals. An apple or orange and a small bag of nuts make a good portable snack. Eat a healthy snack or small meal every three to four hours throughout the day. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable and is much healthier than consuming a single large meal.
7. Eat what you really want first: If you are faced with a buffet or spread, resist the temptation to start filling your plate from everything on the table. Before you start, take your time and look at all that is on offer. Choose three things you know you will enjoy the most and and avoid eating things that you don’t really like as much or want or need.
8. Watch your portion size: Consider the size of your plate. The bigger the plate, the more you will put on it. Research has found that if you use a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch plate you will serve yourself 22 per cent less food.
9. Pour drinks in a tall glass: Research has shown that we focus on the height not the width of the glass so drinking more out of a long skinny glass tricks us into thinking we have a larger drink. If you are drinking alcohol, changing your glass can help slow down your intake. Make sure you drink plenty of water too. Remember: There are a lot of calories in alcohol. Here is more info on how much sugar is in alcohol.
Tip: Add a squeeze of lemon juice to water (or soda water) and a few drops of stevia to make a nice natural zero- calorie lemonade.
10. Stay active: You don’t have to exercise lots to stay fit. Going for walks, a swim or a bike ride by yourself or with your family can be enjoyable and will keep you fit while burning a few calories. It will also increase your metabolism.
Tip: Losing and maintaining your weight is 80 percent about what and how much you eat and 20 per cent about your exercise.
Is it all in your mind?
Our mental attitude plays a leading role in how we behave around food. You may find it is difficult for you to stop eating when you are full. If you’d like to work on your thoughts and beliefs and possibly even lose some weight, then please talk to me – I would love to help you.
Here is an empowering statement for you:
“I can have that, but I don’t want it” (because the choice is yours!)
“I want that but I can’t have it”
The first statement is much more empowering then the second one, isn’t it? If you tell yourself this over and over you will be alright –making healthier choices will become easier as it becomes a habit
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Some recipe ideas:
– MINI PAVLOVAS w/ Vanilla Cashew Coconut Cream (or use regular cream)
- New Zealand healthy food guide Dec. 2013