Festive season tips

Is it only me or does it seem like just the other day we were raising our glasses and sharing our New Year’s resolutions?  We’re almost at the end of another year and with it comes the well-deserved holiday season where it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep to a routine, especially when it comes to eating.

All so often we just give up and say ‘I’ll pick up the pieces again in the New Year’.  But it doesn’t have to be like that.  With a bit of planning, you’ll glide through the festive season as strong and healthy as you were when you entered it.  You’ve worked hard to get where you are, so don’t give it all up now.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy the occasional treat.  It just means that you should still have the upper hand and be in control of what you eat and the best way to do this is to plan ahead.

Whether you’re going to be travelling to an exotic location; relaxing on a cruise ship; staying with family and/or friends or simply chilling at home, the same basic principles apply.

6 tips to keep you on track

  • Continue to eat regular meals/snacks throughout the day rather than suddenly skipping meals and/or eating only one or two large meals per day. As soon as your blood sugar levels drop too low, you lose the ability to make good decisions and your portion sizes suddenly become ‘supersized’.  You may think you’re doing the right thing by eating fewer meals, but you’re in fact just making it a whole lot more difficult for yourself, especially when it comes to managing your portions.
  • Don’t try and get your money’s worth when it comes to ‘all you can eat’ buffets. Rather stick to your usual portion sizes and where possible sneak out some extra snacks (fruit, small yoghurts etc) for later.
  • If you’re going to be attending lots of functions and/or parties, remember to eat something small before-hand so that you’re not standing in front of a buffet table or the ‘chips and dip section’ with a growling stomach.
  • Don’t stock the ‘treats cupboard’ with a month’s worth of treats – they’re likely to last one week max (if you’re lucky) and then the cupboard will need to be stocked again. Rather don’t keep a supply of treats in the house – having to put your shoes on and get into the car to go to the shops to buy the treat is usually quite a good deterrent!
  • When it comes to alcohol, remember to always have water with you, so that you’re not drinking alcohol to quench your thirst. Also add lots of ice to your wine and where possible opt for a white wine spritzer (wine and soda water) instead of straight wine and a light cider or beer instead of a regular one.
  • Enjoy the occasional treat – you deserve it!

Below are some quick, easy and healthy meal/snack ideas for you and your family to try this festive season.

Healthy meal/snack ideas

  • Crustless quiche – oh so simple – chop up and lightly stir-fry 2 cups of chopped vegetables including mixed peppers, onion, spinach, mushrooms (if you’re after a bit of sweetness add some butternut) in a non-stick pan. Add the vegetables to the egg/milk mixture (9 large eggs whisked with ½ cup low-fat milk) and crumble in 1 round of feta cheese.  Place in an oven proof dish and bake at 180 degrees celsius for 25-30 minutes.  Serve with a fresh salad and some whole-grain/low-GI bread e.g. rye bread or seed loaf (optional).
  • Roasted chick-pea and quinoa salad (add plenty of greens, some colourful peppers, extra virgin olive oil and some crumbled feta on top). Buy the canned chickpeas for greater ease and simply rinse them before using.
  • Root vegetable crisps and/or some carrot sticks with a variety of dips including hummus (chickpea dip), tzatziki (yoghurt and cucumber based dip) and guacamole (avocado dip).
  • Pre-packed snack pack including raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) and raisins – good healthy snack for those long road-trips. Because nuts and raisins are both calorie dense foods, never eat more than a small handful at one time.
  • Whole-grain wrap with plenty of greens, some chopped up pineapple and finely sliced chicken pieces (you could use leftover braai chicken from the day before).
  • Smoothies made from frozen banana, fresh berries and fat-free or low -fat plain yoghurt.
  • Peeled, sliced bananas dipped in melted dark chocolate and then frozen (a delightful treat that’s also a favourite amongst kids). Place the sliced bananas in the ice tray section of the freezer on some wax paper.

The ball is in your court

So rather than simply resorting to fast-foods and over-sized portions, make this summer a summer to remember by making more of an effort when it comes to your nutrition.  Your body and mind will thank you for it and you’ll start the new year fresh, alert and ready for just about anything that might come your way!

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