So Christmas is around the corner. Christmas parties are in full swing. We’ve got lots of eating out, lots of catch-ups. That’s great and we definitely don’t want you to miss out. But staying on track with your health goals can be a little bit confusing or a little bit daunting during this time.
Here are my four tips for staying on track this festive season. Watch my video, or keep reading below, to find out all about how you can navigate your nutrition at a time where we might typically find it difficult. If you’d like extra help with this, don’t hesitate to reach out for a 1:1 consultation for navigating the festive season with your specific health goals.
1. Balance your plate.
At Tree of Life Nutrition, we often refer to something called the balanced eating plate. We often use a Mediterranean style version of this too. We find that sticking to a balanced diet is much easier if you have something to reference. It can definitely improve your portion control and the quality of your meals when you’re eating out over the festive season, or when you’re attending Christmas parties at people’s houses.
Get to know the ideal portions
Make sure that half of your plate is filled up with the salad option or the vegetable option. There’s generally always an option like that available at gatherings and when eating out. The protein portions, the roast ham or the meat, fish, chicken makes up about a quarter of your plate, keeping in mind palm size for red meat, full hand of white meat.
And then the last quarter of your plate is made up of some sort of carbohydrate. Including baked potato or sweet potato. Obviously opt for options that don’t have as much cream or milk-based products like a potato baked, going for something more like a roast potato instead, but keeping the portion size small. That way, you are still enjoying all the components that you enjoy, but just in the right portions.
Apply them to any situation
If you’re looking at a menu, for example, have a look to see which option best fits the healthy eating plate. It may be that there’s a salad option and you add some grilled or grilled chicken to it or some prawns to the salad. And then on the side you might get some brown rice that you share with a friend or something like that. So you can sort of work the healthy eating plate into whatever instance you’re in.
If it’s share-style, order some greens, some carbs, some protein, and build your own plate like that. So you can always essentially go back to this and help yourself to have a more balanced meal. Having a balanced meal is going to help prevent overeating and help you stick within your calorie targets.
2. Eat with your stomach – not your eyes!
We talk a lot about mindful eating at Tree of Life Nutrition, and that definitely applies during Christmas time. So, ask yourself -, am I physically satisfied from a meal? Is the meal satisfying? Do I feel overfull? Hopefully not. And we want you to stop eating when you feel satisfied, not when you’re stuffed. So go into a meal aiming to feel satisfied, satiated, but not overstuffed. And again, building this plate can be helpful for that. But just check in with yourself.
It takes 10 to 15 minutes for your stomach to talk to your brain to tell you that you’re full. So put your plate down, eat your food, wait 10 to 15 minutes and actually take a second to stop and think, am I satisfied with the meal that I just ate? Or am I still actually hungry? Eating to the point of satisfaction and not to the point of overstuffed or feeling full or sick from your food.
3. Be careful about drinking your calories.
So we all know alcohol is actually quite high in calories and not very nutrient-dense, which means that you can drink or consume a lot of it and you’re still able to eat. In fact, alcohol actually increases your appetite and makes you want to eat more. So, it makes it a little bit harder to regulate your appetite levels when you are drinking. My tips around that would be to choose low sugar drink options wherever possible.
Typically, pre-made or premixed drink options contain a lot of sugar. One exception is often a seltzer – which tends to be lower in sugar. If you do want to have a drink, try a small glass of wine that you can sip slowly and enjoy. Also, maybe eating food at the same time, to help slow the rate that you drink.
Another good way to drink more sensibly during the festive season, is to have a glass of soda water, or water between each beverage. This helps slow down your consumption of alcohol and helps with rehydration. It’s very, very easy to drink your calories away when you’re not being mindful about it.
4. Don’t deny yourself at Christmas.
No one is saying not to enjoy the things that you like to enjoy on Christmas. I want you to have the ham and whatever else that your heart desires. I think it’s important to not restrict yourself. Have a small portion or a mindful portion.
Enjoy the flavours, think about it, enjoy it mindfully, and enjoy it on Christmas day. One day is not going to completely throw you off the path. It’s about enjoying it and then moving on from there and getting back on track.
So if you’re having a week of really good eating and that one Christmas day is the day that you get to enjoy a little bit more ham than you normally would, or a little bit more sweet potato, that is fine. We want you to enjoy yourselves too and just get back on track when you are finished from Christmas.
We can also be more mindful about leftovers too. Perhaps not taking as many of the decadent leftovers, and opting instead for more of the salads, fruit, or whatever else fits more within your eating plan.
More Christmas inspiration…
Want more Christmas tips? Here are some articles we think you’ll enjoy.
Need more tailored advice for the festive season?
At any time of the year, and especially during the festive season, you can get more specialised support for you – working with your tastes and your lifestyle. From a personalised meal plan, recipe inspiration, shopping tips and tours, or 1:1 advice about going into the Christmas season (and enjoying it!) To get started, why not book an appointment with one of our dietitians. We’re more than happy to tailor something just for you, and to talk through any of your concerns with the upcoming festive season.
The content in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is also of a general nature and is not tailored to your individual circumstances. If you are experiencing significant digestive symptoms, a 1:1 consultation is always the best approach. Please contact our clinic to discuss your unique situation and our tailored and individualised IBS protocol.