Tips to help you stay healthy over the festive season.
Festive Fun vs. Festive Fill
The festive period is almost upon us, providing for many an opportunity for overindulgence and sedentary behaviour. During this break the average person will put on up to 1.5kgs. On Christmas day alone some have been known to consume as many as 6000 calories, 3 times the recommended average. Whilst it’s what you eat on a regular basis that effects long term health, it’s important to be kind to yourself and listen to your body.
Social gatherings at this time of year are likely to include buffets of delicious food, with plenty of dishes that temp us to eat more than we should. Whilst eating is fun, overeating can cause the stomach to stretch up to five times larger than in its fasted state, leaving us bloating and uncomfortable. Our digestive organs are forced to work harder to breakdown excess food leaving us feeling tired, sluggish and ready for a nap. It can take up to 20 minutes for our brains to signal our stomachs we are full. This is the danger period to overeat, so slow down and try to appreciate each mouthful.
Mindful eating is about allowing yourself to become fully aware of your experiences, cravings and physical cues when eating. It can be a useful tool to allow you to savour and enjoy meals with family and friends, rather than mindlessly binge eating. The simple lesson is eat when you’re hungry but not to excess and stop when you’re sated. Also remember not to skip meals to avoid extra calories. Ignoring hunger leaves you tired and miserable, better to snack on healthier foods such as fruit, vegetables and lean proteins to energise your body.
Celebratory meals are often higher in sugars and saturated fats. Whilst festive holidays are not the time to start thinking of dieting, here are a few simple tricks to stay healthy.
- Vegetables – Amongst the variety of dishes that are served there are likely to be a number of vegetable options. The Government’s Eatwell Guide suggests 39% of your daily diet should be made up of fruit and veg so try and fill your plate with a wide variety.
- Fibre – Known for helping you feel fuller for longer, fibre also feeds the micro-organisms of the gut releasing hormones to curb your hunger and reduce the appeal of high calorie foods. So before the main meal reach for a handful of fruit and nuts.
- Sugar – An excess of sugar can be bad news for the digestive system as it creates an imbalance in gut bacteria. Increase friendly bacteria by eating probiotic foods such as onions, garlics, leeks and bananas.
- Alcohol – Give your liver a break by alternating alcoholic drinks with sugar fee soft drinks and eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage that aid and detoxify liver functioning.
Remember; treat yourself, don’t stuff yourself but ultimately have a good time!