With the festive season firmly upon us, our diaries start to become packed with plans, and we’re busier than ever rushing here and there to attend various different events, dinners and gatherings. Whilst this time of year is wonderfully festive and indulgent, you may find that all the food and drink consumed leads you to feel tired, sluggish and burnt out. It’s super important to stay mindful of your diet during this period as this will help you to feel good, healthy and full of energy (which will also keep you going!)
Eat before you go
Never go to a Christmas party when you are starving as you won’t be able to listen to your fullness cues. You will more than likely eat anything you see very quickly and overeat. Instead, have a small high protein snack like Greek yogurt before you leave your house. This will make you feel fuller and help prevent overeating.
Slow down when eating to make your meal last longer and really reflect on hunger and satiety to recognise when you are satisfied/ full. Keep in mind that it takes roughly 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to start sending signals of fullness. Try taking smaller bite of food, chew it well, savour the flavours and put your fork/ spoon down between your bites.
Listen to your body
It’s easy to overeat during Christmas as you are celebrating with family and friends, music is going, alcohol is flowing, and multiple foods are put under your nose every five seconds. Don’t force yourself to eat anything just because it’s in front of you. Before you eat something, try asking yourself if it’s something you really like, and if you are still hungry. Try stopping when you are full and leave some space for pudding if it’s something you enjoy. On the other hand, if you aren’t full yet, it’s completely fine to indulge foods you love until you are full, just make sure to listen to what your stomach says.
Be gentle with yourself
Holidays are made to celebrate and have fun. You shouldn’t be stressing out over what you eat or hating yourself for having that extra slice of cake. Instead, try to make conscious food choices most of the time, but don’t feel guilty if you overeat or fail to listen to your hunger/ fullness cues. It’s all about balance!
Find healthy alternatives to your favourite dishes
Sometimes, just making small substitutions can satisfy you just as much and make a big difference in how much calories, fat and sugar you consume. Simple things like replacing mayonnaise or sour cream with yogurt for homemade dips, using sparkling water and lemon over tonic water in your drinks, replacing sausage wraps with grilled chicken or turkey skewers, and replacing brandy butter with half creme fraiche.
Space out alcohol
During Christmas, alcohol is free flowing and it’s easy to overindulge. Try to space out alcohol and have a glass of water between each drink. This will help you stay hydrated and drink less overall. Alcohol can also increase appetite and cause false hunger so be sure to pause before each new drink and have a glass of water.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a festive dinner and drinking alcohol, but during that week, try eating healthy and balanced meals, and stay active. However, do not restrict yourself from eating around the event just because you want to overeat or feel guilty about it. If you restrict your calorie intake for a few days, this will inevitably lead to bingeing. When you deprive your body from food, your body is starving, desperate for nutrients, and you will likely overeat again, and get into a vicious cycle. Instead enjoy the events and have nutritious and balanced meals on the other days!
Karine Patel is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist who works in the London and Surrey area. She is also the Founder of Dietitian Fit & Co, a team of qualified private dietitian and nutritionists based in the UK. For more information or if you would like to contact the team, head to https://dietitianfit.co.uk/contact/