My tips for you to enjoy food, be healthy and connect this festive season
by Simone do Carmo
in Blogs

When the holidays come along, the average person tends to overindulge. It’s a time when we share food, that is made with love, with our family and friends. However, many people feel that if they eat that delicious-looking mince pie, they will lose all the hard work they’ve done to keep their weight in check throughout the year. Others will feel guilty and anxious. Well, if that’s the case with you, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to enjoy food, be healthy and connect with others at the same time, without losing any of the hard work you’ve done. 

Mindful eating and the three-bite rule

At this time of year, we tend to consume more of the foods we wouldn’t normally eat. Combine that with increased financial pressures and the added stress of trying to get everything done before the holidays, and you have the recipe for a ‘perfect storm’. Enough to make you head straight for sugary treats and glasses of wine.

To prevent this from happening and making you feel sluggish the next day, enjoy your ‘treat’ foods in a mindful way. What I mean by this is to take time to savour your food instead of gulping it down. You’ll find that after a few bites, your palate has been satisfied and you don’t need to finish it all. If you want something more objective, you could also try what is known as the three-bite rule. After savouring three bites of a particular food, it actually loses its initial flavour appeal and we tend to eat the rest out of habit. So save the rest or share it with someone.

The 80/20 rule

Secondly, practice the 80/20 rule: stick to good-quality wholesome foods and well-balanced eating patterns 80 per cent of the time, and allow yourself to indulge a little 20 per cent of the time. I love this rule because it gives you the flexibility to enjoy your favourite ‘treat foods’ and the freedom to go out and enjoy a meal (or cocktail) with family or friends. It’s a sustainable dietary principle to stay healthy and keep your weight in check.

Stay active!

You’re probably not going to hit the gym as much during the festive season, but there are other ways to stay active. And even better if it’s with family and friends! Go for a walk on the beach, throw a frisbee, or grab your bikes and cycle in the countryside. For some more adrenalin and adventure, go paint balling, horse-riding, surfing, kayaking, or hike up a mountain. It’s also a great time to explore places you’ve always wanted to visit. If the weather isn’t too great outside, you can always go indoor bowling, do some yoga, or play active games with the kids at home like animal charades or treasure hunt.

Support your liver

Alcohol tends to be a focal point during the festive season, so it’s important to think about supporting your liver. You probably know this by now, but it’s important to eat something before you drink to delay the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Some liver-supporting foods include cruciferous vegetables (Brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli and cabbage), sulphurous vegetables (onions, garlic and leeks), citrus fruits (lemons, limes, grapefruits and kiwis) as well as protein-rich food sources such as meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds. Natural supplements such as artichoke leaf and milk thistle can also help support your liver. Choose low-preservative alcoholic drinks – check the nutrition labels for chemical additives. Some people are extremely sensitive to sulphites in wines, so look around for low-sulphite or organic wines. And drink plenty of water! Not just when you’re hungover, but also when you’re drinking, you can alternate between an alcoholic drink and a glass of water. Your body will thank you!

Be thankful

We tend to talk about how terrible the festive season is for our health and weight, but why not focus on the things we can be grateful for and see it as a beneficial time of the year? Be thankful for the abundance of delicious and nutritious food made with love. Not everyone has the joy of company this festive season so let’s also be grateful for all the family and friends around us. They are a crucial part of our emotional and mental wellbeing, which in turn supports our physical wellbeing.

I hope these tips will help you enjoy this time of year without feeling guilty, stressed or anxious. Until next year!