The festive and holiday season is upon us. With all the parties, family gatherings and holiday adventures, sticking to your regular diet becomes hard. We asked Nutritionists how they eat healthy during the festive season and for their best tips. Turns out indulging isn’t frowned upon!
“Ditch the guilt” – Tash King, CrossFit Level 2 Trainer and Cape CrossFit Nutrition Advisor
Eat what you love and leave what you like. Take that spoonful of Gran’s Potato Salad, but ditch the store bought, dry and sad looking Fruit Cake. Keep things in balance but still enjoy this time of festivity by eating mindfully but still enjoying your food.
Secondly, Ditch the guilt! This is the time where family and friends come together and make memories and usually this is done by sharing meals together. Split that cupcake with you niece, post the instagram photo and move on. Part of being healthy includes mental health and a good relationship with food. Lamenting over a few extra calories when you should be enjoying yourself is not healthy and neither is the “punishing” yourself for it by exercising a little extra the next day.
Follow Tasha @tashaking
“Fill up on fresh fruits and veg” – Jessica Kotlowitz, Registered Dietician
People often see the holiday season as an obstacle to healthy living but in fact, the summer holidays are the best time to get healthy. Having time off of work means more time to rest, prepare healthy food and to get active.
Summer brings with it an abundance of delicious and nutritious seasonal fruits and veggies – so fill up on plenty of fresh fruits, veg and salads. Pack healthy snacks with you for your days out at the beach.
Have fun being active by going hiking, swimming or playing beach bats with friends. Invite your friends and family over for healthy festive meals or take your own healthy dish along to family gatherings. Stay away from meat-heavy braais and roasts by sticking to mostly veggies, salads and legumes and limiting your meat intake to small portions.
Most importantly, relax, catch up and enjoy the holiday season without letting feelings of guilt and shame taint your fun. Being healthy is all about balance and consistency and a few days of indulgence won’t affect your health or weight in the long-term.
Follow Jessica: @the_green_dietitian
“Be Realistic” – Cara-Lisa Sham, Wellness Consultant
Be realistic – You really don’t have to be killing yourself to lose weight during the holidays. Even if you are mid-weight loss, use this time to maintain your current weight, and then focus on continuing to lose weight after the holidays. You may find that you lose weight without even trying because you are relaxed, and when we are relaxed our cortisol levels diminish (high cortisol levels is a key contributor to unwanted fat storage).
Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and induce overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar. If you are drinking, do so in moderation. Opt for white spirits paired with soda water and lemon, to avoid excess sugars.
Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering. If you know that the holiday gathering you are attending won’t have any healthy options, simply bring your own delicious healthy meal to share. You may even find yourself influencing guests to enjoy healthy food too.
Follow Cara-Lisa: @caralishious
“Exersize, Add, Treat” – Bridgitte Stegen, Registered Dietician
The festive season is one of my favourite times of the year; family, holidays, celebration and, of course, food, food, food! My top tip to staying healthy over the holidays is E.A.T.
E: EXERSIZE restraint and mindful eating (and exercise;)). Before indulging on those Christmas pies or chocolates, decide if you want them because you really feel like they will satisfy your hunger/ craving or just because they are lying around and you feel the need to spare them of that anticipation to be eaten? When you do eat them, enjoy it without guilt & resentment toward yourself.
A: ADD a sufficient source of lean protein to your breakfast. This will help you feel fuller for longer and keep you composed around those cursed Christmas temptations.
T: TREAT your dietary choices like Santa’s assessments for the “naughty or nice” list. Make the healthiest, most balanced choices 95% of the time and your body will forgive you for the other 5% (like that mince pie you enjoyed).
Follow Bridgitte: @a_dieticians_diary
“Watch your portion sizes” Monika Human, fitness, nutrition and wellness coach
Watch your portion sizes – You can gain weight even if you eat healthy. You can overdo it with the veggies and dip or creamy asparagus soup, just like you can with ice cream—except with the ice cream at least you know it’s an indulgence. So make sure you’re not eating something based solely on its health-food aura and keep an eye on your portion sizes.
Don’t skip meals – Traveling, shopping, and running errands during the holidays can lead to fast food or skipping meals. To keep your appetite in check, never leave home without a healthy snack. Choose options made with real ingredients to truly energize and nourish your body.
Drink water – It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger especially with the hot weather in SA, leading to mindless snacking that never satiates. To make sure you’re staying hydrated, aim for approx. 3l of water over the course of the day. If you exercise, you will need a bit more.
Follow Monika @polishmissfit
“Indulge for a night, not a season” – Michaela Mallet, Sports and Fitness Instructor
Indulge for a night, not a season. It’s so easy to over indulge when the season of roast turduken and parties is upon us. Don’t let your treats become part of your everyday diet. Create a routine, eat small meals, and set goals that are realistic. Make sure there is healthy food in the fridge so you make the right choices after a night on the town.
Follow Michaela @michaela_brittany