Read our top 7 nutrition tips to survive the festive season! Sharon Kallos, our new Nutritionist, gives her best advice on staying healthy during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Eating well and staying healthy over the festive period can be a challenge. The holidays are often filled with family, friends, great food and drink but can leave you feeling exhausted. It doesn’t have to be this way. With a few helpful nutrition tips you will feel ready to take on the start of a New Year.
What are the best nutrition tips?
- Keep active to keep healthy this Christmas
- Increase your fruit and veg for good nutritional balance
- Snack wisely to stay nutritious
- Eating out over the festive period
- Go lightly on alcohol over the festivities
- Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
- Get enough sleep over the party season
Read on for full details…
Nutrition tip 1. Keep active to keep healthy this Christmas
During the festive season, sedentary activities such as watching TV are common holiday traditions for many families. Inactivity combined with overeating can lead to feelings of lethargy. Embrace the cold air and go out for a family walk or try and exercise together.
This may require a little planning. Many people have Christmas lunch as their tradition and by the time lunch is over it may be too dark to go for a walk. Try and fit your walk in before the eating and drinking starts and whilst it’s light.
Nutrition tip 2. Increase your fruit and veg for good nutritional balance
There is nothing wrong with having an indulgent festive dinner but make sure that your meals surrounding it are healthy and nutrient dense. Many studies have shown that those who eat diets rich in fruit and veg have a lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Eating a variety of fruit and veg is a good way to get the best range of nutrients. So this is why eating a rainbow is one of our 7 nutrition tips for surviving the festive season!
Take every opportunity to add fruit or veg to your meals and snacks. Aim for at least 5 a day. Frozen, fresh or tinned (with no added salt or sugar) fruit and veg are all good choices.
Add frozen berries to overnight oats (oats that are soaked in milk overnight) or sliced fruit to your cereal and porridge; sliced banana with peanut butter is great on toast!
At lunchtime add veg such as tomatoes, lettuce and peppers to your sandwiches or wraps. Add lentils or chickpeas to vegetable soup for that added protein boost.
Nutrition tip 3. Snack wisely to stay nutritious
Snacking isn’t necessarily bad for you as long as the snacks are nutritious. Try fruit, veg sticks with hummus or smashed berries mixed with yoghurt for Sharon’s top nutrition tip.
During this busy period when you are running around, take healthy protein rich snacks with you such as unsalted nuts – around 20 almonds for example. This can help you avoid grabbing whatever is available and keep your appetite in check until you’re able to eat a meal.
Nutrition tip 4. Eating out over the festive period
Eating out is such a pleasure and a time to socialise with friends and family especially during the festive period.
If you are trying to make healthy choices but find yourself eating out frequently, you can still do this and enjoy the moment. Most restaurants have a menu online. Having a plan before eating out can help you make healthier food choices. Having a drink before your meal or being really hungry will influence what you order.
Top nutrition tips to avoid overindulging:
- Don’t fill up on the bread basket before you start
- Try and fill up on lower calorie foods such as soups, vegetable based dishes or shellfish for starters.
- Be aware of hidden calories. Ask for sauces on the side and pass on the butter.
- Substitute high calorie foods like French fries for lower calorie items such as a salad or a baked potato
- If the main course is rich, compensate elsewhere – choose lighter starter or a sorbet or fruit for pudding thus keeping a balance of nutrition
Nutrition tip 5. Go lightly on alcohol over the festivities
A quick drink in the pub or pre-dinner drinks and before you know it the calories and alcohol units quickly add up. Current UK guidelines on drinking from the UK Chief Medical Officer is not to exceed 14 units of alcohol per week for men and women (1).
You may be surprised that a small glass (125 ml) of wine is not 1 but 1.4 units of alcohol. Units are sometimes hard to understand as most people don’t drink in units, they drink by the glass.
To avoid racking up the units and calories:
- Choose lower calorie options
- Alternate with a soft drink or sparkling water
- Choose something you really want but limit the quantity
Nutrition tip 6. Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
Vitamin D has several important functions including helping us build and maintain healthy bones and muscles and facilitating normal immune function(2). It is sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it is produced by the action of sunlight on your skin.
For those of us in the northern hemisphere between October and March, the sun is not in the correct angle for us to make vitamin D. Although vitamin D is found naturally in a small number of foods including egg yolks, oily fish such as salmon, liver, fortified dairy products and fortified cereals, it is not enough to get the recommended daily amount.
This is one of those occasions when a supplement is necessary. Adults and children over the age of one should take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D during the autumn and winter months (3).
Nutrition tip 7. Get enough sleep over the party season
This can be a challenge with an increase in nights out and visitors. Sticking to a good sleep schedule improves the quality of your sleep. Current evidence suggests sleep improves how we feel, behave and think. It replenishes energy, “boosts” our immune systems and protects our physical and mental health (4).
Hopefully this will help you start 2020 feeling rested and healthy!
Take advantage of a free 15 minute consultation with Sharon!
Sharon is offering free 15 minute consultations so if you are thinking of booking an appointment but are not sure how Sharon can help, this is a good opportunity to chat things through. If you are worried about coping through the festive period now’s your opportunity to ask her some questions and find out more regarding her top nutrition tips.
Click here to find out more about our Nutrition service and what aspects of nutrition Sharon can help with.
To book an appointment or a free 15 minute consultation with Sharon call us on 020 8876 5690, email us here or pop in and speak to one of our receptionists.
- Schwalfenberg, G.K. 2011 A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and clinical implications of vitamin deficiency. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 55 (1) pp96-108
- SACN 2016 Vitamin D and Health
- Besedovsky, L. et al. 2012 Sleep and Immune function. Eur J Physiol 463 pp121–137