Tips for a Healthier Silly Season
By Joanna McMillan
OK let’s be honest. Get Lean is probably at the bottom of your list as we enter the silliest season of the year.
Over the coming weeks Christmas parties, catch-ups with friends you’re determined to see before the year is out, family dinners and celebrations, as well as finishing work deadlines before taking holidays, all take up time and effort, and healthy lifestyle goals can be pretty damn hard to stick to.
It’s little wonder so many of us hit the new year feeling worn out, exhausted, bloated and end up succumbing to the false promises of the latest detox or fad diet!
Don’t let that happen this year. It is entirely possible to have fun, party with the best of them and still maintain your healthy head (and body). Here’s how:
Get enough sleep
Most of us can cope pretty well with one late night but stack up a few nights short on sleep and you’ll start to pay the price.
Your immune system is compromised so you’re more likely to pick up coughs and colds, or a bout of gastro.
You’re far more likely to skip your exercise when you’re tired and you’re likely to have an increased temptation to eat more and eat the wrong things as an energy pick-me-up.
If you have a late night, go to bed earlier the next night – that’s much more effective than sleeping in.
And remember playing catch-up on a Sunday morning really doesn’t work. You’ll only find it harder to get to sleep at your usual time on Sunday night and you might well find you are out of whack for days.
Watch the booze
I don’t want to be the pot calling the kettle black – I like my wine – but there is no doubt that too much of whatever your drink of choice is will wreak havoc on your healthy living intentions.
It’s not just the booze itself, it’s also the impact it has on your sleep, your exercise and your food choices. Just think about what you tend to do when you’re feeling a bit dusty after a party. Do you sleep badly? Eat your way out of the hangover? Indulge in fatty and/or sugary foods? Skip your exercise in favour of the sofa and Uber Eats?!
Try not to let that happen. If you are dusty go for a walk instead of the bootcamp session you intended to do. Drink loads of water to rehydrate, perhaps consider taking an electrolyte solution to help. Eat really healthily to replenish nutrients and get to bed early that night.
Keep check of how much you drink at the event and make sure you alternate with a kilojoule and alcohol-free drink and/or have a glass of still or sparkling water on the go at the same time to keep you hydrated and slow your drinking.
Watch out for cocktails. Most of these are a kilojoule-bomb with a double whammy of alcohol and sugar. You’re generally much better off sticking to wine, beer or a spirit with a soda water based mixer.
Aim for at least 2 alcohol-free days in the week to give your liver some recovery time.
Where appropriate of course! Don’t be the person at the party stationed beside the buffet table or stuck on the sofa all night. Hitting the dance floor is a great idea. Not only do you get some exercise in, dancing is great stress relief, boosts the feel-good chemicals in your brain and it keeps you away from the food and drink for a while!
Bring a platter
When you’re going to a social gathering, bring a healthy platter with you so that you know there will be good options for you to nibble at and keep you away from the chip bowl.
It’s hard to beat a lovely platter of crudités – sticks of carrot, cucumber, capsicum and celery – with hummus, guacamole, tzatziki or smoked trout dip. You could also add wholegrain crackers or there are some new much healthier chips in the supermarket made from hemp, corn or black beans.
Another idea is a lovely cheese board, but again add wholegrain crackers or oatcakes, along with sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, grapes, sliced pear or apple, or perhaps a few dates or figs.
Keep up your exercise
Do the crime, do the time. That used to be our motto in the fitness industry. Believe me fitness instructors can party like rockstars, but they (almost always) still hit the gym the next day.
Your workout may not be a PB, but at least it gets you moving. Do be careful that you are not working out already dehydrated and always follow the rule of listening to your body. Reduce the intensity, perhaps take a meditative style yoga or stretch class or get some fresh air and head outdoors for a walk in the park.
It sounds blatantly obvious to say, but I will anyway! Try to keep to your Get Lean eating philosophies. Just because festivities are in the air doesn’t give us a licence to eat a whole load of junk.
Eat a healthy meal before heading to a party, especially if the only food there will be finger food – it’s rarely very healthy and won’t contain many veggies.
When eating from a buffet, take one plateful and try to use the Dr Joanna Plate as your template for getting the balance of foods on the plate right. Then don’t go back for seconds!
Watch you portions when eating out too. They are generally much larger than you would serve yourself at home. Fill up on the salad or veggies first and then eat slowly to help you recognise when you are satisfied – it happens before you are full.
Give a wide berth to the moreish chips and other fatty, crunchy, salty snacks. They are very hard to stop eating!
Watch the sweet treats and desserts. Avoid them or have a couple of mouthfuls only – they are the tastiest at any rate and then your taste buds get accustomed to the taste and you derive less pleasure.
Finally, try to make as many of your other meals at home as much as is possible. Pile your plate with veggies and pay extra attention to ensuring healthy, balanced meals. Keeping your nutrient intake up is just as important as ensuring you don’t eat too much.