Donegal Nutritionist Sorcha McElchar from Sorchas Healthy Living shares her advice on keeping on track over Christmas… while still enjoying some festive feasts!
It can be difficult to stay healthy over the holidays. Studies have found that the holiday period of late November to mid-January is when most adults gain significant amounts of weight. So, what can we do if diets DON’T work!
If you want to know how to avoid gaining too much weight and how to get rid of it in a safe and healthy way. Or you just want to float into the New year feeling great. I’m here to help with some tips.
- Avoid stress. Christmas is meant to be a relaxing time, that’s why it’s referred to as a ‘holiday’. Unfortunately it can be a very stressful time for a lot of people. Money problems, getting presents for friends and family. Especially with young children.Christmas dinner can be a nightmare too. It’s easier said than done, but really look at everything you do and figure out how to make things easier for you. I’m all for cooking Christmas dinner the day before. Gordon Ramsay even recommends cooking the turkey the day before, carving it and letting it cool before putting it in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge on Christmas day and let it go to room temp before serving it covered with piping hot gravy. Yep, you don’t heat the turkey because that’ll dry it out.Making sure you look after your mental health by getting enough sleep and having a way to relax and destress is so important all year around.
- Alcohol is a big part of most celebrations in Ireland. If alcohol was only consumed in moderation there would be no issue, but a lot of people seem to have difficulty understanding drinking in moderation means. It means not drinking every day or even every week. It means drinking under the recommended limit. You shouldn’t feel hungover the next day because if you do you’ve overdone it. Alcohol is a class 4 carcinogen, a toxin. If you enjoy a glass of baileys or wine with your Christmas dinner, or a pint with you colleagues at a work party that’s 100% ok. You just need to realise that alcohol has calories, and it lowers your blood sugar levels. Which in turn gives you the munchies. Even if you don’t feel drunk, you’re not completely rational and at that moment eating a greasy takeaway will seem like an excellent idea. If that happens a few times a week it will start adversely affecting your health and waistline.
- Swap the Treats: I don’t like saying you should stay away from certain foods (except energy drinks), but what about all the crisps, chocolate, and yummy treats around every corner? How do you not overindulge? Having a box of Quality Street sitting out on the worktop is a recipe for disaster. Not just for you. Unless you’re going to set up CCTV, I’m sure any kids will be dipping into irregularly. Keep the box out of sight. If you fancy a few, take them out in small amounts. Same with crisps and other party foods. Unless you’re having an actual Christmas party there’s no need for them. If you are having a Christmas party, have a few tasty healthier alternatives too. Crackers with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber or bruschetta for example. It’s not as if these treats are going to disappear when Christmas is over!
Visit www.sorchashealthyliving.com for a healthy brushcetta recipe
- When it comes to exercise, I think most of us are guilty of letting it take the back burner over Christmas. Cosy PJs, Netflix and a blazing fire is hard to beat. Even 15 or 20 minutes of physical activity a day is better than nothing. There are tons of online classes available now (one good thing that has come out of Covid!), so no need to even leave your home.
- When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I would recommend staying away from ones that involve your weight or body composition. Focus on improving your health, both physical and mental. A simple resolution like ‘eating more fruit and vegetables’ could make an enormous change in your health for the better.
- Finally, just because it’s Christmas it doesn’t mean my usually healthy eating tips go out the window! Remember Fibre. Drink plenty of water. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and include fibre, healthy Fats and Protein in your meals to keep hunger at bay.
The most important thing is to enjoy this time with family and friends and look after your health always.
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