The Christmas season is well and truly upon us. While it may be “the most wonderful time of the year” for many, it can be valuable to reflect on how your environment changes during this period to enable you to put an appropriate plan in place to stay on track.
Examples of how your environment may change include:
- Increased eating out with friends, family and colleagues
- More irregular eating patterns due to disruption to regular routine
- Increased intake of alcohol as part of Christmas and New Year celebrations
- Reduced incidental physical activity as a result of having time off work
- Reduced physical activity due to sport and exercise programs taking a break
- Out and about or on the go so there is lack of access to appropriate food
Appreciating these changes can help you to adapt your goals and priorities accordingly, and also assist in finding the balance between enjoying yourself without overdoing it.
See below for five nutrition tips to guide you through the festive season:
1. Maintain every day healthy eating habits
While delicious (and potentially less nutritious) foods may be more plentiful at this time of the year and you should allow yourself to enjoy them if you want to, try to avoid tossing out all of your healthy nutrition habits as a consequence. Consistent meals and snacks that include fibre, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fat and dairy will help manage mood, energy and hunger levels. Further, this should make the transition back to a more “normal” routine in the new year a bit easier.
2. Quality over quantity
When approaching the less nutritious options that will pop up around Christmas, consider having smaller amounts of the foods you love and enjoy them, as opposed to excessive intake of ordinary foods that you find yourself eating merely because they are there.
3. Practise mindful eating
Mindful eating refers to eating with presence. It means focusing all of your attention on each mouthful of food consumed, allowing you to maximise enjoyment while also helping to listen to hunger and fullness cues. Three tips to eat more mindfully include:
- Reduce distractions present while eating e.g. turn television off, stay off your phone
- Acknowledge meal times by sitting down and allocating appropriate time to eat
- Prior to eating, check-in with yourself and identify your internal cues to eat. Upon finishing, check-in with yourself again to determine whether you are full or whether you should eat more
4. Stay active
While structured sport and physical activity may be reduced at this time of year, consider alternative ways to stay active to continue supporting optimal health over the break. This could include spending more time outside with the kids, taking more bush walks, swimming at the beach or even gardening. Activity might take on a different form than the structure of going to a gym but it still plays a role in being healthy.
5. Own your food choices
It is okay to say no to options if they don’t connect with your goals or your tastebuds. If you do happen to eat richer food than you may normally eat, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. It is completely okay to eat differently but factor it in to your overall eating plan for the day rather than as an extra on top of regular daily intake. This might mean reducing portions of certain meals or reducing frequency of snacks. If you did eat something that didn’t make you feel the best then learn from that; don’t try to overcompensate or punish yourself of earn the food. Move forward and continue to make food choices that make you feel the way you want to feel.
We hope you have a merry Christmas and happy new year – just remember that many small dietary changes or considerations can equate to a substantial difference collectively.