You may have already found the supermarket shelves filled with festive treats, but once December arrives, we go into overdrive. How can we stick to our health routine when seasonal sweets and treats surround us?
As we welcome the holiday season, we ask Nutritionist Resource member, Lisa Chothia for her top tips to stay healthy over the Christmas season.
Out of sight, out of mind. If you think you’re going to be tempted to eat all those chocolates and crisps, then don’t buy them! I know for a lot of people, the best way is to not have the temptation in the house.
Now, I appreciate that’s easier said than done, particularly at Christmas so I’m going to add this twist on it. If you have to buy ‘treats’ for the house during the festive time, go for the most expensive and high quality ones you can afford, or maybe go slightly over-budget. The theory here is when you know how much you’ve spent on them, you will eat them slowly (not the whole box in one go). You will really savour them when you have one – enjoy it, appreciate it and make it last.
When tucking into your Christmas day feast, make sure you savour your food. Eat slowly and chew properly to increase your feeling of fullness and satisfaction. This technique sends signals to the brain, making you less likely to overeat and can also help prevent indigestion! Perhaps you can even use smaller plates so that they can’t be filled so much in one sitting?
Potato swap! For an interesting slant on the classic roast potato, why not try some lovely roasted sweet potatoes instead? The beautiful orange colour hints at the fact they are an excellent source of beta-carotene; the plant form of vitamin A and an essential nutrient for healthy skin and optimum immune function. The vitamin C content of sweet potatoes provides further defence-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Try to do something physically active before a big blow-out, even if it’s just a brisk walk on Christmas morning. We often plan to walk after the meal, only to be too tired or too full. A walk before will not only help you burn calories and raise your metabolism (making you less likely to pile on the festive pounds) but you’ll feel more alert and motivated – especially if you get out in the winter air!
The dreaded alcohol. If you know you can’t manage a dry festive season, try to alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones such as fruit juice and water. You can also dilute your alcoholic drinks with these, effectively cutting your alcohol intake in half. Drink more, suffer less! You can also make your own festive flavoured water – add in mint leaves, apple and orange slices, whatever takes your fancy! Remember that alcohol contains calories too, so it makes sense to steer clear of full-sugar mixers if you’re watching your figure.
Here is one of my favourite festive recipes – you can often find this next to the turkey, but they are ideal as a snack or Christmas breakfast!
Devils on horseback
You’ll need six rashers of streaky bacon and twelve pitted dates. Cut the rind off the bacon and half each rasher. Wrap one prune in each bit of bacon and bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about 20 minutes.
Variation: Replace the prunes with dried apricot or use strips of ham, chicken or turkey instead of bacon.
Tip: Use a cocktail stick to fasten the bacon to the prune/apricot.
Timesaver: Cook the night before and have cold or reheat in the morning.