4 Nutritionist Tips this Holiday Season
Dazzling light displays, Christmas jingles ringing through busy shops, not to mention good food and even better company. All but a few of the wonderful signs the holiday season is upon us!
At this time of year, we start to see the onslaught of online content suggesting ways to ‘not fall off the wagon’ and ‘beat the Christmas bulge’, but is this really the right way to view the festive season?
At Fresh Fitness Food, we are all about balance. Whilst we think it is important to continue to strive towards reaching your health and fitness goals, it is also a fantastic opportunity to relax, unwind and spend some quality time with family and friends. We have a lot to make up for from last year!
Now we’re not saying you need to throw in the towel completely, so our FFF Nutritionists have rounded up our top tips for the holiday season!
1. Don’t deprive yourself, but find your balance – Georgia (FFF Nutrition Manager)
Don’t deprive yourself! Now I’m not saying you need to say yes to everything that is passed your way, but knowing when to opt in and when to take a step back is all about finding balance over this time. If you constantly say no and make yourself feel like you’re missing out on things everyone else is enjoying together, you’ll tip the balance, feel deprived and likely end up going overboard later on. This may then cause feelings of guilt and you can find yourself in a tricky cycle, which will really take the joy out of things.
If you do go a little bit overboard on the bubbles or the Boxing Day buffet gets the better of you, rather than dwelling on it, simply accept that these things happen on occasions and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it.
Also, when it comes to alcohol, don’t feel pressured to get involved at every social occasion – it’s fine to say no! Not only can the calories from alcohol add up quickly, but they can also make you completely throw the towel in when it comes to your food intake. This can have a knock-on effect on your physical activity and emotions on subsequent days. Enjoy a tipple (we sure like to), but try to ensure you have a glass of water for each alcoholic drink and…know your limits.
2. Plan ahead – Lisa (FFF Nutritionist)
We face challenges and obstacles the whole year round, so there’s no need to panic over weight gain during the festive season.
Start by identifying any obstacles you might face over the Christmas period. Planning and making choices ahead of time will help you to enjoy this time of the year as well without feeling guilty.
Add an extra 15 minutes of exercise to your usual workout routine so you can enjoy a bigger meal later in the day. Or when eating out, check out the menu upfront and make your choice before you arrive hungry at the restaurant. We often make less rational decisions when we’re hungry.
Your diet and training routine might be slightly different this time of the year, but that’s fine!
3. Be present and listen to your body – Meghan (FFF Nutrition and Sales Executive)
Ignore anyone that tries to tell you that calories and exercise should be at the forefront of your mind over the Christmas period (otherwise you have our permission to give them a big FFF-YOU). In our opinion, this is awful advice at any time of year, not just at Christmas.
Unless you’re undergoing intense training for a specific event that requires respective, specific attention to your nutrition (e.g. preparing for a trek up Everest in January), or you’re having to avoid certain foods for genuine health reasons, focus on food being a happy, uniting factor bringing loved ones together this holiday.
Try to hone in on how your body feels, and give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you’re full from dinner and want a mince pie, but simultaneously think you might explode if you have another morsel, remind yourself that you can have that mince pie later, or tomorrow, or whenever you would like. You don’t have to eat it then and there!
You may not be sweating it out at the gym, but walks, dancing and frantic last-minute shopping are all forms of movement that help keep you active over the festive period and might be exactly what your body needs – restful, gentle movement.
Really tuning into what your body wants and needs is a vital tool for happily and healthily navigating any holiday. If you’re interested in learning about this in more depth, check out our previous post on Improving Your Relationship with Food.
You won’t look back in 10 years time and think ‘thank God I avoided Grandma’s roasties and felt stressed around my family for a month to stop my weight changing’. It’s certainly easier said than done, but try to focus on being present in the moment, and not on the food that’s present around you.
4. Stay active and don’t skip meals – Sophie (Head of Nutrition)
When it comes to exercise – stay active but I don’t mean hitting the gym or striving to reach a PB over the holiday period. Maintaining a certain level of physical activity over the Christmas break has some great benefits!
Try going for a walk outside with family or friends, using this to spend quality time with loved ones, whilst getting outside in nature and making sure you get some movement in.
Physical activity, time in nature and social activity all lead to improved mood and reduced stress. The perfect antidote to a 3-day hangover.
When it comes to food – don’t purposefully skip meals to make up for anything extra you’ve consumed the night before, or anything extra you might consume that evening. Try to make sure you stick to regular meal timings as much as possible. Despite the festivities, it’s still important to make sure we are eating healthy balanced meals where possible to ensure we are getting all the nutrients we need to maintain our health and our energy levels, throughout the holiday season.
Christmas is a time for relaxing and reconnecting with family and friends. Take this time to look back on the year you have had and reflect on what you have achieved. It is also a great opportunity to get yourself ready for the one ahead!
We hope you have a fantastic Christmas!
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