Enjoying Xmas whilst still kicking your nutrition and fitness goals by Liz Isenring

Holidays are a wonderful time to bring family and friends together and delicious food is often a focal point. Unfortunately, celebrations are often partnered with overeating, food comas, too much alcohol and lack of exercise, resulting in feelings of guilt, weight gain, and lack of motivation.

On average, people gain a kg or two (or 3 or 4) over the holiday season. This may not sound like a lot, but research shows that most of us struggle to lose that extra holiday weight plus on top of the Covid kilos that many have gained it is easy to feel like you’re behind the 8 ball. Hence it is important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle during the holidays, so you feel your best coming into the new year!

LINC Nutrition has 6 tips to share:

  • Avoid skipping meals – especially breakfast! Having a nutritious breakfast will kickstart your metabolism and prevent you from overeating at lunch. Evidence shows that people who skip breakfast have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. When preparing breakfast, focus on wholegrain carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.
    We love porridge made with rolled oats, topped with low-fat yoghurt, berries, and a sprinkle of nuts. (If you are practising intermittent fasting and missing breakfast please ensure you don’t over do your food when you do eat – our caring dietitians and nutritionists can help).
  • Avoid going to social occasions starving – if you arrive hungry you are more likely to overeat. Try having a low GI snack (slow carb) before you go such as low-fat yoghurt & berries, veggie sticks & hummus, or wholegrain crackers & low-fat cheese.
  • Practice mindful eating – when tucking into Christmas lunch, focus on eating slowly, chewing your food well and put down your cutlery after each bite. This will allow you to listen to your hunger and fullness cues and stop eating when you are satisfied – not full and on the couch in a food coma! Make sure you walk around and chat to people or spend some time in nature and don’t spend all your time eating and drinking.

  • Choose wisely and  implement portion control – Avoid going back for seconds, thirds, fourths…. Instead, dish up your main meal in accordance with the balance plate by filling ½ your plate with fresh vegetables, ¼ with lean protein like turkey breast or vegetarian protein, and ¼ with wholegrain carbohydrates. This will allow you to enjoy all the yummy food but also moderate how much you’ve eaten. Tip: if you’re having dessert, ask if anyone wants to go halves or thirds and avoid or limit the accompaniments of cream, ice-cream, or full fat custard.
  • Include enjoyable movement every day! Aim for at least 30 minutes each day and vary your intensity level from moderate to vigorous. Varying your intensity will support metabolism, fat loss, mental clarity, energy, cardiovascular health – the list goes on! Try incorporating physical activity into your holidays by organising a hike, bike ride, and swimming with your friends and family – and no equipment needed!
  • Drink wisely. To reduce calories and avoid a hangover, opt for reduced or non-alcoholic beverages like sparkling water with fresh mint and lime, sugar-free soft drinks like diet ginger beer & lemonade spritzer, kombucha or herbal teas. If you choose to drink alcoholic drinks, include a glass of water or mineral water between every alcoholic drink. Make sure you try the moderate alcohol wines or zero alcohol beers as better alternatives. Your head and body will thank you the next day!


Liz Isenring

Dr Liz is passionate about improving lives via evidence-based nutrition and wellness consulting. She's a Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, author and speaker.

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