It is very hard to stay healthy over the holidays; copious amounts of drinking and eating throughout Christmas and New Year are pretty much inevitable!
Mostly because we have a great excuse: “I will get it together in the new year and detox in January”. Of course it is ok to indulge a little over the festive season, but it is still important to keep a healthy lifestyle throughout the little fun.
My biggest concern, when talking to clients, is that the first thing that happens when overindulging, the cravings come back with a vengeance. It seems impossible to stop eating sugar when we are ready for a clean eating routine, after having had way too much of it for a week or so.
Secondly, we feel terrible and uninspired, and the risk , when feeling so bad, is that we are going to struggle to pick up eating healthily again long-term. “I will start tomorrow, I feel crap anyway today”
Unfortunately the majority of people very easily slip into bad habits and struggle to come out of them, but here are five quick tips to keep your routine healthy over the holidays and nourish your body even when you are being a little naughty.
1. Religiously drink water: Yes, you may have a few more drinks than usual and you really cannot help it, but wake up to water and drink between 2 and 2.5 liters (more if you are exercising) per day. Begin the day with water and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or warm water and lemon (keeping you alkaline as well). Water not only keeps you hydrated, but you will find that because you are feeling rather full with it, you will eat and drink a little more wisely (aka less)
2. Have a normal, nutritionally rich breakfast: Interestingly, some of my clients come to me saying that they will “save their calories’ for the big meals by having a tiny or no breakfast! A loud “NOOOOO” always takes place in my own head, accompanied by a horrified look on my face! Skipping breakfast or keep starving until the big meals is a recipe for disaster. We think we are doing ourselves a favor by counting calories and “saving” them, but this is not how the body works! Calories play a much less important role in food than we think they do! It is about what food we have and how we metabolize it! So, the body needs clean fuel throughout the day to function properly. Aside from calories contained in the macronutrients, what we mostly need is the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) Breakfast should be a wonderful opportunity to add in the good stuff you may not have access to at mealtime. At my house even celebratory meals are nutritious but I have been to many where I can only see starches and fats and if you are going for a meal where you have little or no control over the menu; then you want to stock up on micronutrients in the morning. Porridge with berries, a superfoods smoothie or green juice to start the day with can only give you exactly what you need. Also, by having had a hearty breakfast, you will eat a lot less at mealtime!
3. Do not skip meals: As above, it is key to keep nourished throughout the day so that if the festive meal is dinner, you don’t get there starving! Eat raw salads, vegetables dishes and drink green juices or smoothies throughout the day to keep nourished and help you not overeat at dinnertime. By having light but nutritionally rich food, and avoiding starches, you can feel less guilty if you have a little too much at dinner. But the truth is also that the chances of stuffing your face are slimmer when eating throughout the day as you will not be as hungry.
4. Dinner is not just about the food: Festive meals put too much emphasis on food and very little on the true meaning of them: spending time with family, friends and loved ones and enjoying conversation. Obviously enjoy the food but instead of going back for second or third rounds, speak to people around the table, start an interesting discussion and focus on what you can exchange aside from food.
5. Keep your routine: Lastly, what I feel is important to help us indulge within reason, is keeping a routine. If you are used to doing 20 minutes of yoga each morning, keep that up, even if on holiday. If you enjoy waking up early, then do so, even if that means you need a nap later, keep your normal schedule so that you can do things you enjoy but also keep your meals steady and avoid having cravings later on.
Even if you know you may have more sugar than usual over the holidays, I think the most important thing is to keep checking in with what is good for you and not use the holidays as an excuse to be excessive, it really only makes things harder once we want to start eating clean again and who wants to start the new year feeling awful? Feel the most amazing ever with proper nutrition.
I wish you a wonderful Christmas with plenty of greens and superfoods