The festive season is always a difficult time of year to stay on track with our health goals. So we asked a few of our testimonials and Lite n’ Easy Senior Dietitian Ashleigh Jones to share their thoughts and ideas on how to enjoy the festive, party season and Christmas day, without undoing all of the hard work we’ve all put into achieving our health goals this year.
The run-up to Christmas and New Year can sometimes feel like an endless drinking session, with end-of-year parties, lunches, and dinners the excuses to crack open a bottle are never in short supply. But, aside from the health side effects, alcohol can make it harder to lose or maintain your weight, especially if you don’t practice moderation in your drinking. It’s worthwhile to make a plan when it comes to your drinking at this time of year. Decide which events you would enjoy a drink at, versus those that you could put your hand up to be the designated driver.
For those not looking to drink this festive season, there’s a simple way to avoid being asked every five minutes, “do you want a drink?”. Bring your own drinks to the party! The choices available on the shelves this festive season for non-alcoholic wine and beer are endless. Or you could just reach for the trusty bottle of soda and lime or a few sugar-free ginger beers.
Did you know a standard glass of wine contains 130 calories? If losing or maintaining your weight over the festive season remains a focus for you, soda water or sparkling mineral water contains no calories. However, watch for the sweetened varieties which will contain calories from added sugar, and tonic water which contains around 60 Calories per serving – and that’s before you add any gin!
Alternating your drinks with water is a great way of reducing your alcohol or soft drink intake. In addition, drinking water before, during, and after drinking alcohol will also significantly help to counteract the dehydration effect that alcohol has.
Overloading your plate during the festive season can be easy to do. Practice mindful eating; pay attention to what you are eating and how much. The best way to prevent kilo creep is to control portion sizes (think about using smaller plates) and try to chew slowly and thoroughly, which will allow you to better recognise your body’s fullness signals and consume fewer calories.
Holiday eating can often be rich in saturated fat and sugar (hello fruit mince tarts!) but low in protein. However, protein keeps you feeling fuller, for longer. Avoid being hungry when you arrive at events – instead, try eating a Lite n’ Easy meal before heading out. This will ensure you get to eat the right foods in the right portions and makes it less likely that you will overdo the festive treats.
Living with guilt around your food choices at any time is not motivating –especially during the festive season. Being on a health journey doesn’t mean you need to avoid particular foods while others happily indulge, or that you should feel guilty about your food choices. Guilt is a terrible motivator to stay on track; so if you overindulge at an event, let it go and move on! You can get back on track at your next meal.
One of the best things about the festive season is the opportunity to sit back and relax. And with the events of 2020 and 2021, some R&R should be on the cards! But being inactive can contribute to weight gain, especially if you are also eating and drinking more than usual. Some outdoor physical activity with family and friends is a great way to keep moving during the festive season, as well as creating an opportunity to bond over something other than food and alcohol.
Christmas Day is only one day out of 365! The healthy habits that we build throughout the remaining 364 days of the year will definitely have more of an impact on our health than how we spend a few days over the festive season. So if you choose to have a slice or two of your special Christmas dessert, enjoy it in the knowledge that you have not ‘undone’ any of your good work and have plenty of time to get back into your healthy routine.