If you feel yourself dreading the possible weight gain this festive season, you’re not alone. Yet even as temptation abounds, there are a few steps you can take to enjoy a healthy, stress free festive season, without tipping the scales north.
Whether you’re at home, at a party or at work, it’s a great habit to pause before you reach for food and ask yourself are you authentically hungry or do you just want to eat because the food is there? Remind yourself that you are in charge and although food pushers abound at this time of year, no-one can make you eat more than you need. Eating the right amount of food is not about “being” good, but about “feeling” good, so trust your inner body wisdom.
Think Abundantly About Food
Finding the happy balance between savouring just the right amount of delicious food to feel satisfied without feeling like a stuffed turkey is possible. Try thinking abundantly rather than scarcely about food this year. This time of year especially, food is plentiful, so when you’ve had enough to eat, more food inside of you is a waste. If food is on your plate, don’t feel you have to finish it; you can always save it, take some home or leave it.
Practise mindful eating before the holiday season starts. This means eating slowly, without distractions and staying in the present moment as you thoroughly taste each bite. It’s about appreciating your food from every aspect – noticing the smell, texture, temperature and flavour. It’s also about tuning in to the whisper of satiety, letting your body tell you when it’s had enough to eat.
Start Your Meal with Vegetables
Whether you are eating at home or heading out to eat, start making vegetables the first part of every meal. I make a habit of serving vegetable spears with dip as a starter at home which gets kids used to enjoying the fresh crunch of seasonal vegetables. Cucumber, green beans, cherry tomatoes, carrots and snow peas are a few of our favourites.
Try starting the meal with a hot or cold soup; which helps to increase satiety and allows you to eat less of the heavier foods. At a buffet, take the time to survey your options first and then fill half your plate with salad or vegetables leaving room for a small amount of the richer foods you love, including dessert.
Feel the Satisfaction
The Italians have a saying “Mangia poco ma bene”. It means “Eat little but well”. When faced with an array of choices, go for the best and save your appetite for the food that pushes all your flavour buttons. When you choose what you really love, enough is as good as a feast.
Mindfully savour the best dishes slowly and sensuously, which will help you feel satisfied sooner. Remember that guilt is not a tasty side dish and it’s OK to eat and enjoy high calorie foods occasionally. When guilt is no longer a factor in your eating, common sense prevails.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
Amidst all the socialising and holiday cheer, be sure to give yourself time to just chill and enjoy unstructured downtime. Set aside some time where you can lounge around with a good book, take a nap or lavender bubble bath or watch a movie.
Prioritise quality sleep by relaxing before bedtime. Lack of sleep can actually increase appetite and cravings, so aim to get to bed by 10pm and enjoy 8 hours of restorative sleep.
Have Fun While Being Active
Notice how good being active makes you feel – energized, alive and positive. Forget militant exercise and adopt the habit of taking an after dinner stroll. Taking a walk after a meal is a great way to connect with friends and family and aid digestion. It’s also a chance to talk more intimately with your kids or partner.
If you adopt these healthy habits going into the festive season, you’ll be better prepared to start the New Year off on a positive note, feeling your best.