Christmas is a season of indulgence, and why shouldn’t it be? It’s a time for celebrating, bringing the year to a close and counting our blessings. Of course, celebrations are often synonymous with food and drink… and over-doing it a little bit. But by being a little bit more mindful, we may not have to pay so much for the joyful celebration come January.
Enjoy what you love and avoid the rest
Your Mum’s Christmas cake, turkey and stuffing sandwiches with cranberry sauce, chocolate Santa! There may be certain foods that we only have at Christmas and look forward to for the entire year.
You can indulge in your fantasy foods and enjoy it, but if you keep an eye on all the mindless additions, there’s no need to pile in extra unnecessary calories. If mini mince pies or sausage rolls aren’t on your top 5 list, just don’t bother and save your calories for something you really love.
Mindful or mindless?
Mindful eating practice is something we should aim for all the time, but it can really go out the window once we’re in celebratory mood or busy chatting with friends. Think about the last social occasion you were at that had ‘nibbles’. Would you be even able to recall how many mini-this and mini-that you popped into your mouth by the time the evening was over? If you’re chatting and not actually hungry, just say a polite no and pass by. Chances are you will not have gotten much joy from that tiny canape and not even remember tasting it two minutes later. As above, by all means, make a bee-line for your favourite and have one or two, but if you don’t pay attention, this can easily turn into ten or twelve.
To drink or not to drink, that is the question
Many social occasions revolve around alcohol but if you have never tried attending one sober, perhaps it’s time to try? You might find that your friends and family are just as much fun without the gloss of alcohol. It’s cheaper, healthier and you won’t need a taxi – there are lots of advantages.
Alcohol is full of empty calories and can easily lead to a snack binge later in the night. The sugar low and dehydration from a hangover the next day also usually leads to poor food choices. While such a binge can be absorbed as a one-off during the rest of the year, there are so many events on over Christmas that it can all just blend into one big eating and drinking blur.
Chose the parties you’re really looking forward to and enjoy them, but consider going alcohol-free at other events in between. Try sparkling water with a splash of grapefruit juice or even a white wine spritzer with plenty of sparkling water. Your head and body will thank you for it.
If you are having a few drinks, consider the clear spirits such as vodka, gin and white rum. Mix with sparkling or soda water and some fresh fruit and have one or two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink. Our bodies can only detoxify about one drink per hour, so pace yourself.
On days you are going out, fuel yourself properly throughout the day. Start with a good breakfast and lunch, including some protein and complex carbohydrate. Try not to be ravenous when you start the evening, as you will end up eating far more than you wanted or need.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach, or if possible, avoid the pre-dinner drink and just have the drink with your meal. Within 5 minutes of having a drink, there is a measurable amount of alcohol in your blood and absorption is increased if your stomach is empty. An hour before you hit the town, have a meal or at least a snack containing some fat. Fat takes longer to digest, staying in the stomach and slowing down the rate at which alcohol hits the blood stream. Try a wholegrain cheese or peanut butter sandwich, a full fat natural yoghurt with some fruit or some oat cakes with hummus or guacamole for a healthy dose of fat.
Temptation is just too…….tempting
For most of us, if it’s in the house, it will be eaten. Simple as that. We all tend to buy boxes of biscuits, mince pies and sweets before Christmas, as it is an unwritten law that we must offer visitors a Christmas treat, just in case they haven’t had one yet. However, it’s very easy to get into the habit of finishing off the leftovers once your guests have gone.
To avoid this, buy smaller treats you can store for the next visitors. For example, you can freeze left-over mince pies when the guests leave instead of being the martyr that finished them off. We’ve also included some recipes for healthier treats here that you can happily share with guests and feel good about it!
Spicy roast nuts
2 cups mixed nuts (we love cashews, almonds, walnuts and pecans)
1 tsp smoked paprika (or use cayenne for spicier version)
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. melted butter (optional)
- Preheat oven to 160oC
- Place ingredients in a bowl, toss well, then spread out onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Stir at least twice
- Allow to cool and store in an airtight container
Great to serve before a meal or use to top a salad or soup. For a nut-free version, use seeds instead and roast for less time.
Dark chocolate, cranberry and almond bark
100g good quality 85% chocolate
Handful flaked almonds, lightly toasted
Handful dried cranberries
Pinch sea salt
- Break chocolate into pieces and melt slowly in a bowl over hot water
- Pour onto baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper in a thin layer
- Sprinkle almonds, cranberries and salt over chocolate and place in fridge
- When solid, break into bite sized pieces
Use whatever nuts and seeds you like or have to hand. Another favourite combo is pistachio and sour cherry.
This blog is brought to you by Glenville Nutrition – find out more on www.glenvillenutrition.ie