Healthy Eating Tips For The Festive Season
A guest blog by Nutritionist Charlotte Heald
PhD, MSc, BSc, mBANT, mIFM, CNHCreg
The festive season is upon us once more, full of Christmas parties, tempting treats, plentiful booze and Christmas dinners to help trip up all our good intentions to be healthy. So how do you enjoy the festivities without ending up feeling like a big bloated ball of regret by New Year?
While the only sure-fire way to prevent a hangover, weight gain and/or digestive discomfort is to eat and drink in healthy moderation, these tips will help you to limit the effects of festive overindulgence:
Keep hydrated - If you plan on celebrating the festive season with a drink or two, make sure to alternate glasses of your chosen tipple with water. Not only will this keep you hydrated and so reduce the risk of a hangover the next morning, but it may also save you some unnecessary embarrassment!
Eat slowly and mindfully – take time enjoy what you are eating, that way you are less likely to overeat and more likely to sense when you are full.
Exercise portion control - Just by reducing how much we put on our plates can help reduce how much we eat. Use smaller sized dinner plates and bowls for your meals – this will trick your mind to thinking you are eating more. Also, practice saying “…thanks, that was delicious but I'll pass on seconds…”
Keep moving - No matter how many parties you are invited to, or how busy you are over the festive period, make sure to exercise regularly or at least get out into the fresh air and go for a walk every day. As well as being a great hangover cure, it helps counteract any additional calories and also helps digestive function. Why not start a new Christmas tradition of a brisk hour’s walk after breakfast on Christmas Day?
Fuel up early in the day – Make sure you have a good breakfast that includes quality protein (such as eggs) and wholegrain carbohydrates (such as homemade porridge or muesli). A healthy breakfast provides a long lasting source of energy and can help keep hunger at bay, which makes us less likely to overeat and give in to sugar cravings.
Similarly, don’t skip lunch if you going out for a big meal later. Although this sounds like a good idea to help not eat too much, you are actually more likely to eat more because you are hungry. Not to mention the mid-afternoon energy dips and general irritability you’ll feel due to blood sugar lows.
Don’t go out on an empty stomach: Have a small meal or at least a healthy snack (such as a cheese sandwich with wholegrain bread or oatcakes and hummus) before going out. Parties can be full of unhealthy snacks and drinks, so going to a party on a full stomach leaves you less likely to give in to these temptations, and more importantly will help line your stomach to help avoid that hangover.
After the party - When you get home, drink a pint or so of water before you go to sleep. Keep a glass of water by the bed to sip if you wake up during the night. This will help to keep you hydrated.
If you have found you have overindulged…
If you do get that bloated, nauseous ‘no more turkey’ feeling that often follows on boxing day, it probably means that your gut has gone on strike due to being inundated with a tidal wave of booze and rich, sweet and fatty foods. So to help it get working properly again, try a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in ½ glass of water or a herbal tonic such as Napiers Best British Bitters before eating to help nurture it back to life. A digestive enzyme supplement can also help.
On the morning after the night before, make sure you have a good breakfast – eggs on wholemeal toast with diluted fresh orange juice is a great breakfast for helping to gently revive. Also, try eating light and nutritious foods such as broths and soups - see below for my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. These are easy for a fragile stomach to digest, as well as being great sources of vitamins and minerals which help top-up depleted nutrient levels.
But above all…
Enjoy! Christmas is a time for being with friends and family, and what better way is there to spend time with those you love and care for than round the dinner table sharing good food, love and laughter.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2017.
To make an appointment with Charlotte Heald please call 0131 225 5542
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
The ultimate comfort food! Whether you are full of cold or have over done it the night before, this delicious and nutritious, nurturing soup is quick and easy to make and is full of nutrients that boost your immune system, help reduce inflammation and help soothe irritated stomachs.
Ingredients - serves 4-6
1.8L chicken or vegetable stock (or Miso soup mix)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs,
2 tsp chopped fresh root ginger
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
100g rice or wheat noodles
Small tin of sweetcorn
6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, shredded
½ small courgette, thinly sliced
Handful of thinly shredded cabbage
2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Chopped parsley or coriander leaves, to serve
Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken, ginger and garlic. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for 20 mins, until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken to a board and shred into bite-size pieces using a couple of forks.
Return the chicken to the stock with the noodles, corn, mushrooms, courgettes, cabbage, half the spring onions, chilli flakes (optional) and the soy sauce. Simmer for 3-4 mins until the noodles are tender. Ladle into bowls and scatter over the remaining spring onions and herbs. Serve with extra soy sauce for sprinkling.