The festive season brings its own set of nutritional challenges but a few basics can go a long way to keeping you on track. These are my 3 starting points to monitor your habits and eat healthier over the festive season.
1 – Protein, protein, protein
Are you having enough? Evaluate each meal for the day and check that breakfast, lunch and dinner are each providing you with a source of quality protein. Can you tick off any of these with each meal? Eggs, plain yoghurt, cottage cheese, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, ham, fish, venison or whey protein. Try to make sure one of these foods makes up at least a palm size (or two) on your plate. This is roughly 100-200g depending on your body size. Go for the bigger portion if you are heavier or find that the smaller size does not satisfy you.
2 – Check your hertz
This is all about frequency. How often are you eating? For many of us eating too frequently increases the chances of over-consuming calories. Quite often this snacking is based on habit, boredom, excitement, stress or other emotions and not on hunger. How many of your snacks were eaten because you were hungry? This should be the only reason to snack and you might find that if you are consuming enough protein at meals you will be fine for a couple hours in between.
3 – Liquid energy
Evaluate the fluid calories and additions in your diet. How often can you spot calorie containing drinks; booze, fruit juice, smoothies, cold drinks, mixers, cordials and tea or coffee with sugar or milk. These can all add up quite quickly. Try cutting back, drinking more water (try some lemon, mint and strawberries in your water bottle) or limiting sugar and milk in your hot drinks. 1 less teaspoon of sugar per coffee, 3 times per day may mean 90 less over a month! Don’t necessarily switch to artificial sweeteners but rather make a few small changes to volume of fluid or calorie rich additions consumed.
Adrian Penzhorn is a registered dietician and sports scientist. Adrian is also the founder of Food For Sport which promotes proactive health and performance through nutrition.