Nutritionist Claire Mahy discusses how you can still indulge this Winter without overindulgence, making new year diets a thing of the past!
Where food is concerned the colder weather usually means anything goes and following 2020, letting our hair down was quite frankly necessary! However, there are ways to both ‘have your cake and eat it’ without total overindulgence and avoiding the cliché new year diet. And let’s face it the winter months are hard enough without dietary restrictions to lose those extra pounds. Read on for ideas to bring balance amidst all the seasonal temptations.
Be selective and savour
At Christmas our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs and we often eat foods we would usually avoid simply because they are there or through politeness. I’ve found myself in this situation many times! How about going for quality over quantity this December and make a conscious choice to be choosy about your treats instead of the ‘all you can eat’ buffet approach? This way you will really savour your favourite foods, honouring your choices without guilt or regret.
Be careful not to overeat foods that you know you react to. Whilst I’m an advocate of moderation it’s important to know and apply your boundaries where food intolerances are concerned. Dairy is a classic example as with Christmas comes more cheese, chocolate, desserts, and creamy liquors. If you have a dairy intolerance your digestive system will not respond well to this big hit leading to unpleasant digestive complaints and some gut healing work to do once the festivities are over.
Have a look at your social calendar and plan how to get nutritious meals in and around all the meet-ups with family and friends and of course – all the dinners out which often mean rich and starchy foods. How about making a green smoothie each morning to keep your balance? Plus you could get into the habit of ordering a side of vegetables when eating out. If you are going to a drinks party, then enjoy a healthy dinner beforehand to curb the constant grazing on salty snacks which are everywhere at Christmas!
Using smaller plates and glasses (as the sugar content of alcohol adds up too) is a simple yet effective hack to eat and drink more mindfully. Take time over your food, as it takes approximately 20 minutes from when you begin eating for your brain to send out satiety signals. By eating slowly there is a good chance you might not fancy seconds anyway, and if you still do then absolutely go for it.
Instead of dropping your exercise regime to then kickstart in January, try to maintain regular exercise over the festive period and take advantage of the extra days off work to get outside. Exercise and being in nature is vital for our wellbeing. Balance the buzz and noise of the festivities with some headspace or catch up with friends and family and enjoy a long walk or cycle. Explore a part of Gozo or Malta you have not visited for years, in the winter sunshine that we are blessed with on the Maltese Islands.
Winter food swaps
Small steps really add up and make a big difference overall. When we introduce gradual dietary changes the mountain doesn’t feel so high. Here are a few festive food swaps to try out this December.
- Cucumber and celery instead of crackers on your cheese board
- Raw nuts, dried fruit or roasted chestnuts instead of crisps and salted peanuts
- Quality dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate
- Roasted root vegetables instead of white potatoes
- Homemade cranberry sauce instead of a sugary shop-bought version
- Vegetable stuffing instead of a processed meat version
- Raw honey to sweeten desserts instead of sugar
- Greek yoghurt to accompany desserts instead of cream or ice cream
- Stewed fruit or a spiced orange sorbet instead of a sugary pudding