Festive Eating & Drinking

As the festive season is well underway it can be easy to deviate from our normal eating and drinking habits. Food and drink consumption generally tend to increase in the lead up to Christmas and over New Years. However, some of the foods we eat over Christmas are foods that we only eat at Christmas so we should focus on enjoying such foods and celebrating without any food guilt.

Here are a few hints and tips on supporting your wellbeing over the festive period!                         

GET ACTIVE: Whether it’s a 20-minute brisk walk or an intense spinning class, fit some activity into each day if you can this can help support your mental wellbeing and particularly if you are feeling stressed or anxious.

PARTY ON: Don’t head to a party on an empty stomach. Eat a healthy snack before you leave, and you'll be far less likely to overdo it at the buffet and it will help prevent alcohol having such a quick effect.             

CHOOSE WISELY: When eating out, think carefully about your menu choices. Three-course meals can rack up the calories, so opt for a lighter starter and dessert, such as vegetable soups or salads and sorbet or fruit. Consider how to re-balance your diet as opposed to completely cutting out or avoiding food groups i.e. try to add an extra portion of vegetables to your meals.                                                                                       

PLAN AHEAD: If you know you’re out for a big lunch or dinner, plan your other meals around this. Why not make a big batch of wholesome vegetable-based soup that's ready for you in the fridge when you get home? 

BE DRINK SAVVY: Alcoholic drinks can be costly in terms of sugar and calories, and on the purse strings. If you keep an eye on your intake you may find you crave fewer salty snacks, which are typical go-to foods after consuming a lot alcohol, and fewer high fat hangover treats too. Plus, alternate between alcoholic beverages and glasses of water, or even try some of the non- alcoholic alternatives, a growing market with some delicious products that aren’t full of sugar either for example kombucha. It is also, worth mentioning the seasonal festive beverages that will be making the rounds this time of year, which can have alarming amounts of sugar in them, so if you are going to try one perhaps consider the portion size!                                         

GET YOUR 5 A DAY: Staying topped up with plenty of micronutrients will help prevent illness over the festive period. There are lots of seasonal fruit and veg at its best in December such as clementine’s, cranberries, brussels sprouts and turnip, get adventurous!                                                                         

HOME BAKES: Consider what you can make yourself at home using store cupboard ingredients, we have a range of home bakes many of which require very little prep that can make some delicious treats without all the added sugar. Click here for the recipes.                                                                                       

MINDFUL EATING: Focus on being fully present when it comes to eating. Slow down when eating, chew your food and take time to pause whilst eating. Eating slowly can allow your body to recognise when it is full. This is because when your stomach has taken enough food, a hormone called leptin is released from fat tissues which sends signals the brain of fullness. It is thought, however, that it takes around 20 minutes for this process to occur. Reflect on your thoughts and feelings to recognise emotional hunger, which is likely to come on suddenly and you tend to crave something specific whereas physical hunger builds over time and any food item would satisfy this hunger.                                                                                          

Ultimately the main thing is to enjoy yourself over the Christmas and New Year period, and do not fear that a couple of weeks of out of routine eating and drinking will have long lasting consequences. A healthy and happy relationship with food is key and you can always make small changes to improve your diet and lifestyle, at any time. Merry Christmas!

References

Mindful Eating Factsheet, British Dietetic Association; https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/mindful-eating.html

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