Healthy eating: staying on track at Christmas
Christmas is a time notoriously synonymous with over indulgence, with both food and alcohol seemingly in constant supply. If you are a health conscious individual or, if you are trying to lose weight the festive period can be a time filled with mixed feelings. It’s likely you will be looking forward to time with family and friends, as well as worrying about over eating, and trying to balance festive treats while staying on track with your healthy eating habits. So, what can you do when you are faced with numerous social engagements, which inevitably entail alcohol and late nights, and food in constant supply?
Here are a few tips to get you through the festive season, and keep you on a healthy, balanced track:
- Take a common-sense approach; try and adhere to existing eating habits as best as you can. Accept that you may have a few more drinks than normal. If you do have a day or night of over-indulgence, try to compensate for it the next day by eating slightly less than you normally would, avoiding chocolate and treats, and having an alcohol-free day. Plan in advance, so you have healthier options available or ready to eat.
- Try not to binge drink. According to the NHS (2016) binge drinking is: ‘drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time’, and research suggests this entails drinking more than 6 units of alcohol in a single session. For a woman this is the equivalent to drinking 2-3 standard glasses of wine (13% strength) and for men drinking 2-3 pints of beer (4% strength).
- To counteract the effects of drinking, it’s a good idea to drink more slowly (no more than 1 alcoholic drink per hour), drink with food, and alternate with water and other non-alcoholic drinks. If you can, stick to one type of drink.
- Step away from the ‘beige’ buffet! Food based on white flour lack nutritional content and are generally high in sugar, saturated fats and trans fats. However, these tend to be the main foods available at buffet tables. Try to limit your intake of pastries (savoury and sweet), snack foods, crisps, crackers and white based foods. Where possible opt for wholegrain alternatives. If you are invited to the home of family or friends, offer to contribute by taking food with you. In doing so, you can take vegetable crudités with guacamole or hummus dip, sweet potato wedges, and wholemeal sandwiches, ensuring you have a range of healthier options available to you.
- If you are going to a party or family gathering that involves buffet food, eat well before you go as this will avoid you picking and over eating. Stick to one plate of food.
- Stay well hydrated, and have a pint of water before you go out.
- If you find yourself with a hangover make sure you have breakfast the following day. This should be high in protein, eggs are a great option because they contain choline which supports the liver. Try and wait until 9am to eat, and if you don’t feel like eating, make a smoothie with berries and natural yoghurt.
- Don’t let your physical activity routine fall by the wayside. Time off work means more time to incorporate long winter walks with family and friends.
So, as you can see it’s really about balance, common sense, and lots of forward planning. Wishing you a healthy and happy Christmas!
NHS Choices. (2016) Binge drinking. Retrieved from: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Bingedrinking.aspx (24/11/17)