Whether we celebrate Christmas or not, this time of year can prove challenging to embrace healthier foods. Supermarkets are displaying indulgent and comforting foods everywhere. The shelves are stocked with chocolate, sweet bakes and pre-cooked high fat, high sugar meals. Physical activity as well as a healthy, balanced diet are however important to improve our overall wellbeing.
In the last few weeks we have already explored how physical activity and exercise can improve our mental health and shared tips on how to stay active during winter. So, this week we will focus on what little changes we can make over the festive period to eat healthier.
1) Make vegetables your number 1
We all know that vegetables are good for us, but we might still opt for roast potatoes and plenty of meat topped with gravy. Make sure that half your plate is filled with vegetables before going near any other delicious treats. If you cook yourself, make sure to choose a variety of different vegetables such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, peppers, carrots, etc. Any leftover vegetables make a fantastic lunch the following day. Try not to add too much butter / fat when cooking the vegetables or try a frylight spray as a healthier alternative.
2) Go easy on the carbs
Whilst potatoes are an unrefined carbohydrate which add healthy nutrients to your diet, roast potatoes are usually prepared with lots of fat. You can steam, or boil your potatoes instead, or cut down on the amount you are eating on the day. Roast potatoes are in the end a standard addition to any Christmas meal. Other starchy vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, and squash are also all high in healthy nutrients but can add a high amount of carbs if you add too much to your plate.
3) Are you still hungry?
Before going for seconds, check in whether you are really still hungry. The temptation to over-eat is high when we are presented with lots and lots of delicious foods. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and with your meals as sometimes we might just be thirsty and confuse it with feelings of hunger. Not over-eating also means that you will be more likely to be active throughout the rest of the day and get a better night’s sleep.
4) Be careful with that sweet tooth
Sugar is highly processed and adds a lot of calories. Make sure you know where sugar is hidden in your foods. Chutneys, ready-made gravies and sauces are all foods with hidden sugars. Make your own sauces and try natural sweeteners such as honey, agave, maple syrup or dates instead. These work well for desserts too.
5) Don’t drown your food
Talking of sauces and gravy, make sure not to add too much of this. Try and add a little bit for flavour if you really like gravy. Sauces and gravy tend to be high calorie foods. So, try and enjoy the different flavours on your plate without drowning them to become the same one.
6) Cut down on the fats
Make sure to drain excess fat off roasted potatoes and vegetables and use as little butter on your boiled / steamed vegetables as possible. Choose lean meat such as chicken or turkey for your meals.
What are your tips to eat healthier over the festive period? You can share your ideas and thoughts with us by using #fit150 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also contact us if you would like to write your own blog post.