Christmas is coming and you don’t have to be afraid of enjoying it. We associate Christmas with ‘eat, drink and be merry’ and there is no reason why you can’t have a guilt free festive season. I am all for healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. I have to stress the need for a nutritious diet and the importance of nutrition as the basis of any diet. At the same time we are all human and need a treat. Me included. I have the occasional lapse but as long as that is all it is then enjoy the chips, chocolate or even a Big Mac as a special treat and not a regular occurrence. You can always make sure you make up for it and get back on to the straight and narrow of your nutrition diet the very next day.
Better to be relaxed about the Christmas excesses if they happen. Getting stressed out about all that food and drink and what to eat or not to eat is just as bad for you as the over indulging or maybe worse. Stress is one of the big causes of ill health including high blood pressure and also poor digestion which can interfer with the absorption of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients.
Anyway a traditional Christmas dinner is not all bad. Turkey (good for protein, B vitamins, low sodium, zinc, selenium), plus healthy vegetables (brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, broccoli) and potatoes. Cut down on the Christmas pudding (though it has plenty of dried fruits), the chocolate gateaux and but enjoy what you have.
So not much harm done there. Then like other traditional nibbles – nuts (good), dates, figs, etc again not much harm done as it is only once a year. Of course if you are happier being strict with yourself even at Christmas don’t worry either as you don’t want to get stressed about having to eat something you don’t want to either.
Drink is the possibly most harmful part of Christmas and may need more willpower. Though if you are generally health minded you probably don’t drink much even at Christmas and can still enjoy things. You can always pretend as well – tonic water with ice and lemon looks like a gin and tonic!
So all is not lost. Go out and enjoy Christmas and have a good time. Afterwards make sure you are extra strict with the nutrition diet for a few days and you will be back to normal.
1. Record daily everything you eat and drink. Everything – snacks and drinks as well not just meal content. Do this for at least a week and include snacks and meals out.
2. Go through your list and highlight with a green highlighter all the ‘good’ healthy foods on the list. Then highlight in red all the ‘bad’ unhealthy foods on the list. Healthy foods would be fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, water, herb teas etc. Unhealthy foods would be snacks – crisps, salted nuts, anything processed and full of sugar – cakes, biscuits, puddings, coffee, alcohol, etc. Be strict with yourself.
3. Then start changing some of the red highlighted bad foods for healthier options. You may be able to start simply by cutting out some of the ‘red’ bad foods and eating more of the ‘green’ good foods you are already using. Make things easy for yourself. For instance if you have chips with a meal, replace them with a baked potato. If you are busy and need to have more vegetables use frozen vegetables or a side salad which may include grated carrot for an added benefit. Start in simple ways which is better than doing nothing.
4. When buying food read labels if it is packaged. If you don’t understand the ingredients or there are a whole list of unpronouncable items don’t buy. Someone once said if there are more than 5 ingredients listed on a product don’t buy the product.
5. Further reduce the ‘bad’ foods by cutting the portion sizes. Meat is healthy and you don’t have to try and be vegetarian, but you don’t need a an 8 oz steak. Have half that and save the other half for another day! Add more vegetables to the meal for more health and so you don’t feel you are starving yourself.
6. Change to healthy snacks if you must have a snack - mixed fruit and nuts (not salted), fresh fruit or vegetables like carrot sticks, celery or even raw cauliflower ( which is delicious and totally different taste to cooked cauliflower). Seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin are also a healthy snack and again not salted ones.
7. Exercise more. Leave the car and walk to the local shop if just going on an errand. Park further away from you work and give yourself a little bit extra walking everyday. Do exercises at home, even if you don’t want to miss your favourite tv programme do them while watching the tv. Not ideal as you should be thinking about the exercises but better than nothing.
8. Don’t tell yourself that you can eat anything in moderation. If that includes bad foods they are still bad even in moderation. If you have to have a treat change to a more healthy on – dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. But don’t get stressed out by falling by the wayside. If you go to a party or dinner with friends and can’t stick to your new regime don’t worry. Just make sure you are even more strict with yourself the next day.
9. Begin in simple stages – one step at a time and get used to the change, then take another step. It doesn’t matter how small the step, each step is forward and is a success. With success comes better health and well being. You will feel better, look better, have more energy and feel better about yourself.