From today there are officially less than 2 weeks left till Christmas! Can you believe it?
Which means work parties, family gatherings, mountains of food, rivers of alcohol, and tons of treats and desserts… Which can sometimes (or should I say, most times!) be less than healthy. With all the more-than-usual socializing with family members and friends, we tend to overeat, and indulge in foods that don’t quite support our health – short and long-term.
So while we don’t want to add the stress of trying to ditch the eggnog, Christmas cookies, and everything else that gets thrown at you… on top of the responsibility of getting gifts ready… With a few simple tricks you can avoid those feelings of regret that follow over-indulging, and enjoy the holidays while feeling awesome and staying on track with your goals. And you can have a memorable time without any regrets. Amen to that!
The difference usually lies in a few small changes, a couple of simple shifts, which add up to make the big difference in your health and metabolism.
So here are my top tips and tricks from my own experience, to help you do just that. You can thank me later 😉
1. Drink plenty of water.
Yeah yeah, I know you’ve heard this before. But, do you do it? When I teach my classes and I ask this question, the ratio of people that put their hand up when I ask “Do you think you drink enough water?” is only about 20%. I think that’s crazy, considering you are 70% water.
Water is what mostly fills your cells, it is the solvent your body uses to cleanse and flush the toxins out of the body. And the sad truth is that most of us don’t get enough of it.
Drinking enough water ensures your cells stay nice and plump, and your liver and lymph can drain out all the toxins properly. So you end up having more energy and feeling better overall. Water also helps retain skin elasticity and prevent premature aging (ladies, are you listening now??) Also, it helps you to fill full and eat less. Bingo! Just make sure you drink water in between your meals – so 5 minutes before, and 1.5-2 hours after.
2. Eat lots of veggies and fruit.
Low in calories and high in nutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, and fiber, veggies and fruit are your allies. Not just during Christmas, but even more so then.
The antioxidants help your body fight free radical damage, which is caused by the alcohol, sugar and other toxins consumed. The fiber helps to keep your gut clean and your bowels moving – meaning you feel happily light and ready to rock ‘n’ roll, and not constipated.
Loading up on veggies and fruit also means you will eat less of the bad stuff, when your body feels nourished and your stomach feels half full.
3. Go easy on the eggnog and sugary drinks.
When you drink sugary drinks like eggnog, pop, and even fruit juices, you drink entire tablespoons of sugar in a short period of time, without even noticing. This causes huge spikes in your blood sugar, which causes insulin spikes, and then crashes, respectively… Which make you crave more sugar. And yes, artificial sweeteners aren’t any better, they cause insulin spikes as well, and in fact they are even worse for you.
So limit your consumption of these sugary beverages as much as you can, and make your own where possible with natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey and dates.
4. Eat small meals throughout the day.
A lot of us tend to “save ourselves” for the big meal and not eat much throughout the day. This almost guarantees overeating and feeling tired and sluggish afterwards, as your body is dealing with the shock of having to digest so much food.
Instead, don’t skip meals through the day – eat small portions every 3-4 hours. This makes it a lot easier on your body, and on yourself, to not overeat to a point of near explosion.
5. Find healthier, more nutritious substitutes of the foods you love.
I always look for ways to make a dish more nutritious. Whether that means adding in some leafy greens, broccoli, or other veggies, roasting instead of frying, using wholegrain pasta or rice, using legumes instead of meat, adding in various herbs… You can really upgrade the nutrition value of a meal by making a few changes, and without sacrificing the pleasure of enjoying it.
Here are a few ideas that might help get your creative juices flowing:
- Replace mashed white potato with sweet potato or cauliflower (or at least you can do half and half).
- Have a veggie platter with dips such as hummus and guacamole, which will make it easy to snack healthily through the day. Sure you can have some chips and crackers around too…but also lots of veggies… The name of the game here is balance.
- Have a big colourful fresh salad at every meal. Use a variety of leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onion, and detoxifying herbs such as oregano, parsley, thyme and garlic.
- Add fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented veggies, and yoghurt dips.
- Go for homemade desserts that are low in wheat flour and refined sugars. Instead use more nutritious grains where possible such as oats, spelt, buckwheat, or nut flours. Replace refined sugar with natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar (low glycemic), honey, maple syrup, agave or dates. Some examples of desserts would be homemade chocolate fudge, chocolate avocado pudding, chia seed pudding, chocolate chip cookies, and fruit pies.
And in the end, make sure you enjoy it all no matter what you end up eating. Be mindful of your stress levels and your self-talk, because that won’t do you any good either, and we can allow all the holiday worrying to steal your joy away from simply enjoying the company of your families and loved ones.
After all, this is what the Christmas spirit is about, so breathe, drink water, and don’t take it too seriously because it will be gone before you even know it. 🙂