How to Stay Healthy During the Festive Season
Should you relax your eating standards when on holidays? Will you undo all the hard work invested over the year? How can you enjoy some favourite foods without blowing your health goals completely?
Where weight is concerned, research shows people mostly gain it over the weekends and holiday periods. Not during a typical working week, which tends to come with more structure. Worse still, that excess body fat tends to accumulate over the years, like a stealth bomber undetected by radar.
If you have a medical condition, such as type 2 diabetes or fatty liver, turning a blind eye to festive food quality can add insult to injury. Unhealthy foods don’t ask about seasons. But continue to silently promote harmful cellular processes that can bring on disease complications and unfavourable blood test results in the New Year.
The truth is, what you eat matters. And every mouthful counts. Even during the holidays, or especially so.
The good news? Your body has a remarkable capacity to heal itself, much faster and more effectively than previously thought. And this is
a good time to start to care for it better. In my new cookbookFood as Medicine
I include some festive food ideas that are both healthy and delicious! Being rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, such dishes can be targetting those silent, deadly processes, while you’re having fun!
Whatever your health goals, why not make this happy season count?
7 tips to enjoy yourself and survive the festive season
Don’t skip meals to save up calories for parties. Unless you have a will of iron, you’re more likely to lose control when you finally get there and consume greater calories overall than if you had paced yourself.
Bring healthy foods to a party and be an ambassador for good living. Whip up my ‘roasted red capsicum, walnut & pomegranate dip’. Toss together the ‘sprouted bean, avocado & red papaya salad’. Or make mini ‘chocolate truffle cakes with raspberries’ and get ready for the accolades. Just don't mention it’s healthy!
Stick to ‘the three bites’ rule if choosing to indulge in not-so-healthy desserts prepared by others. Research suggests that’s all it takes to get the full experience. The pleasure diminishes after that.
Choose only what you love not what you like. If plum pudding is not your thing, don’t eat it. Reserve yourself for other delights.
Say ‘no’ to food pushers. If you’re already full, politely decline – your gut will also thank you!
If you choose to drink, savour a small amount of alcohol. Dilute wine with water as was traditionally done. Research shows the gap has closed and women around the world are now nearly as likely as men to drink too much and suffer for it. This is most evident in young adults.
Don’t forget to move your body. Plan catch-ups with friends over a walk, swim or tennis. Food is not the only way to part-eee
over the festive season. A lot of sitting, especially after eating, is harmful for all of us. Sitting is now considered the new ‘smoking’.
Enjoy. Celebrate. And be mindful this season.
Sue Radd, author of Food as Medicine
Sue has very kindly shared with us her recipe for real raspberry sorbet. This easy tangy recipe has all the goodness of whole fruit without the additives that usually hide in ice-cream. Perfect for an elegant ending to a dinner party. Berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods you can find. Like strawberries, raspberries are low GI and contain ellagic acid, but they have 50 per cent more of this phytonutrient and double the fibre.
PREPARATION: 5 MINUTES, COOKING: 0 MINUTES, SERVES 6
2 large (approximately 120 g/4 oz each)
very ripe bananas, peeled, chopped and
2 cups frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons natural maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Per serve: energy 405 kJ (97 Cal); protein 2 g; fat 0 g; saturated fat 0 g; cholesterol 0 mg; carbohydrate 19 g; sugars 17 g; fibre 6 g; calcium 29 mg; iron 0.7 mg; sodium 2 mg
Remove bananas from freezer and place in a food processor. Let
sit for 5–7 minutes to soften slightly, then pulse until broken down.
Add remaining ingredients and blend until a thick, creamy pink
mixture is formed, pausing once or twice to scrape down sides.
Serve immediately in cups or cones, or transfer to a glass bowl with a lid and freeze for later.
- This recipe is great for using up bananas that are starting to go brown. Simply peel, chop and pop into the freezer for later use.
- The pink colour will intensify with freezing and turn raspberry red.
- You can also use other berries of your choice.
- Freeze leftover sorbet in an ice-cube tray to make your own smoothie cubes. Then just pop them into a blender with dairy or soy milk or yogurt!
Image credit: Dominique Cherry