With the silly season upon us, many people feel concerned that their healthy habits will go out the window, that they will gain weight, and start the New Year feeling less than optimal! But this doesn't have to be true. With a few simple guidelines, you can still enjoy relaxing and celebrating with family and friends, while still maintaining your health and fitness.
Plan Your Training!
Pick a training buddy (or a personal trainer) and schedule sessions together. If you are accountable to someone other than yourself, you will be more likely to follow through.
Plan to train in the morning so you will be less inclined to drink as much or overindulge the night before no one wants to exercise with a full belly and a sore head!
Try Intermittent Fasting
Feel like you have had a few days of over doing it? Why not take a few days to reset. Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a new thing. Historically, humans have always fasted whether for cultural or religious reasons, due to food availability (or lack thereof), or even every night as we sleep!
Modern science however, has been able to uncover some of the very promising health effects that IF can have including longevity, improved blood sugar regulation, weight management, improved body composition (increased lean muscle mass) and more.
It has also been researched as way to reduce inflammatory markers in chronic disease, and has been proposed to have a positive effect on reducing cancer risk, as well as resetting our appetite control and supporting metabolic function
Who should try it?
- Those who have their nutrition and exercise mostly on track but want to take their progress further
- Anyone trying to lose weight who feels they need a kick-start
- Those who are trying to increase lean muscle mass while keeping body fat low
- Those who are in tune with their bodies, and have their sleep and stress under control
Who should not?
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Anyone with a history of eating disorders
- Anyone on pharmaceutical medication without consulting a healthcare practitioner
- Anyone with a diagnosed health condition without consulting a practitioner
What about juice fasting?
A juice or liquid fast takes the pressure off your digestion (which often can utilise 70% of the body's energy!) and allows your body to focus on healing and detoxifying.
When incorporating days of juicing, it allows you to flood your body with highly bioavailable nutrients that enhance detoxification and well-being.
Fasting, I find, also allows you to reconnect with your relationship to food when you go without something for a period of time, it suddenly allows you to see your attachment more clearly... and it can be very interesting!
Healthy Party Food Swaps
Healthy eating does not have to be about deprivation or missing out on festive food. Make better choices about the food that you do eat and always up for a higher protein option over very carbohydrate heavy alternatives. Protein sources include things such as:
- Fish and seafood
- Cheese and dairy if well tolerated
- Nuts and seeds
- Nuzest clean lean protein
Swap Sliders for San Choy Bau
Sliders or mini burgers are an extremely popular party food right now, but rather than filling up on all that bread, cheese and sauce, why not try making San Choy Bau? Saut√© good quality mince with garlic, chilli and tamari, and then wrap in lettuce cups with chopped vegetables and nuts for a light and delicious alternative.
Swap Mini Quiches for Mini Frittata
Store bought pasty is laden with artificial ingredients, rancid oils and sometimes even trans fats. So rather than ditching the quiche entirely, just bake without the pastry for it to become a frittata. This is a great protein rich party food that you can pack with vegetables for added nutrition. Bake in small muffin tins for the perfect finger food, or in a larger tray that can be sliced into wedges.
Swap Potato Chips for Kale Chips
Potato chips are highly inflammatory and lack any sort of nutrition. Even the ones that have been cooked in oils other than vegetable oils, are still highly processed and contain high levels of acrylamides - a known carcinogen. A better choice would be kale chips either store bought or home made. Kale contains a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, and when oven baked in coconut oil and salt, is far less inflammatory.
Swap Soft Drink for Soda Water with a Squeeze of Lemon
Soft drinks have no redeeming qualities for me. Not only are they full of sugar, but often also artificial colours, flavours and a host of other chemicals. A better alternative if you like to drink something fizzy is soda or mineral water with a squeeze of lemon juice. You could even add a splash of fresh fruit juice if you wanted something slightly sweeter.
Swap Cheese and Crackers for Vegetable Sticks and Hummus
My biggest concern with cheese and crackers is more to do with the cracker than the cheese! Many store bought crackers either contain a lot of gluten, as well as preservatives, raising agents and often sugar, but even when you opt for a gluten free rice cracker, many brands contain MSG! Vegetable sticks, such as carrot, cucumber, celery or capsicum will still give you that crunch, while also offering you added nutrition. Hummus, like cheese, is high in protein so will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full.
Swap Indulgent Desserts for Fruit with Nut Butter
If you have a sweet tooth after your meal, why not pass on the sugar and dairy laden desserts, and instead try fruit with nut butter. My favourite combinations are green apple slices with cashew nut butter, or fresh dates stuffed with almond butter or whole almonds. It would even be ok once in a while to choose a good quality dark chocolate, and spread that with a little nut butter also. The balance of the protein and fat from the nuts will help to slow the release of the sugar from the fruit into the blood stream, as well as helping you to feel satisfied and not over indulge
A note on alcohol
While you don't have to completely eliminate alcohol there are a few things to consider:
- Alcohol is like liquid fat onto the body as there is no nutritional value derived from alcohol, it is effectively just additional carbohydrate that, if the body doesn't burn it off as energy, will very quickly be stored as fat.
- When we drink, we tend to make poorer food choices not to mention we don't feel like exercising!
- It is an additional toxin for the body to process if you are trying to lose (or not gain!) weight, the body needs to be able to effectively detoxify, otherwise it won't break down your fat cells.
If you are going to drink, make better choices the best option would be vodka or gin with soda water and fresh lemon or lime. Wine on occasion is also ok. Steer away from beer where possible the high yeast content can cause imbalances in your gut flora. Absolutely avoid any soft drinks (other than soda or mineral water) and keep sugary cocktails to a minimum.
And remember... the best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones is the gift of health! So enjoy this time, but do so with a balanced approach and you will be sure to start 2017 feeling amazing!
Love smoothies and love donating to a good cause? Check out my eBook, co-written with Lana Jeavons-Fellows - Wholehearted Smoothies All proceeds go to Open Heart International www.wholeheartedsmoothies.org