‘Tis the season to be jolly, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the festivities and still fit into your skinny jeans! All it takes is a little bit of planning and you’re on your way to a guilt-free Christmas and New Year.
Does shedding a couple of kilos before Christmas and the New Year sound unrealistic? Does keeping them off sound even more preposterous? Not if you follow my Keep It Simple (KIS) guidelines. Yes, it is possible to enjoy a social life this festive season while keeping yourself healthy and fit.
Clean up your own Environment – Eat ‘Clean’ at Home
Although Christmas and New Year’s parties and festive catchups mostly take place outside of your residence, your home is the best place to start your survival routine. When you think about it, even if you are attending a few pre-Christmas and New Year functions, you will still be consuming more meals at home than out. The earlier you start cleaning up your eating environment, the better. You can expect to be feeling more energised only a few days into your new ‘clean eating’ routine. You may even notice your clothes getting looser as you may shed a couple of kilos before the chubby man in the red suit drops off a few pressies.
Here are some handy KIS tips that will help you set up a healthy home environment:
Your KIS Guidelines for at home:
- Eliminate all processed and refined foods. These include any sugary treats like lollies, chocolate, ice cream, white flour products such as white bread (it creates the same pancreatic insulin response as sugar!), biscuits, bakery goods, and also soft drink and juice.
TIP: if your family won’t cooperate, place all unhealthy food items in dark containers and store them in the pantry or deep in the fridge – out of sight, out of mind!
Replace refined foods with wholesome foods. Go for:
- Foods that come from the ground like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, wholesome grains, beans and legumes.
- Foods that have a mother like (preferably organic free range) meat, chicken, eggs, fish.
- Foods that haven’t been ‘messed with’ – As a general rule, if your grandmother would not recognise an ingredient on the back of a packet – stay away from it.
Your KIS Guidelines for entertaining:
If you plan on entertaining this festive season, there is one simple rule you need to follow – healthify, Healthify, Healthify!
Entertaining guests, whether for a pre-Christmas party, New Year’s Eve or on Christmas Day is the perfect opportunity for you to make healthier food choices for yourself and your jolly guests. With every food selection you make (finger food or main meal), you have the very special opportunity of healthifying – replacing high energy, calorie rich, nutrient-poor ingredients for more wholesome ones or opting for ‘cleaner’ foods following the guidelines mentioned earlier. Here are just a few ideas:
- Use vegetables sticks instead of refined biscuits or crackers for dips.
- Serve healthy dips instead of rich fatty cheeses. Some suggestions include hummus, guacamole or beetroot and tahini dip. Adding tuna or eggs to some dips will increase the satiety factor for you and your guests.
- Chicken skewers or barbecued prawn skewers are always a popular finger food selection when entertaining as well. Offer a soy based or mayonnaise based dipping sauce to cut down on sugar.
- Cooked prawns and grilled fish are not only a healthy and delicious selection, but one that will leave everyone feeling satisfied without having to undo their belts after finishing their meals.
- For dessert, serve a selection of seasonal fruit or fruit salad accompanied by natural yoghurt or delicious coconut yoghurt. If you insist on serving cake, it can be easily healthified too. Swap white flour for wholemeal or spelt flour, swap margarine for pure butter, coconut oil or full cream yoghurt, and swap sugar for Stevia (natural herb based sweetener), honey or Rapadura (unrefined cane sugar).
- Replace Christmas Rum Balls with my healthified KISmas Rum Ball recipe.
How to KIS in Public:
Making more conscious food and beverage choices while out will assist you in avoiding not only weight gain, but also that ‘food hangover’ the next day. Here are a few tips that can help while you are out celebrating:
- Do not skip any meals before your function. If you are not sure which type of food will be served, eat a full meal before your function so that you don’t fill up on all of the wrong types of foods.
- Enjoy more protein based finger foods if available (fish cakes, chicken skewers, meat balls), as they will fill you up more than carbohydrate based snacks. Avoid fried foods and pastries.
- Drink a full glass of water between alcoholic beverages to keep hydration levels up and avoid a hangover. Ideally, it is advisable to avoid having more than five standard drinks per week.
- If celebrating at a restaurant, make your meal selection before consuming any alcohol, as it may affect your choice, and order no more than two courses.
- It is OK to have dessert if you wish, as long as you eat healthily at home and generally avoid sugar. When you eat healthily, you should be able to enjoy any treat with a smile.
Deflect the demons!
It is the season to be jolly, and jolly we should all be. Even if you have a ‘blow out’ while celebrating with friends or family, no drama. Really. The next day you should simply go back to following your KIS guidelines. Remember, when you give your body exactly what it needs, and feed it regularly on a cellular level, you are building a very special relationship with it. As long as your body gets what it needs most of the time (80%-90%), your occasional ‘blow out’ should not make significant changes to your overall health or weight. And after all, putting it all into perspective, although the build-up seems to go forever, Christmas only lasts one day, so why not enjoy it guilt-free? And your New Year’s Resolution for 2016? How about nurturing yourself and making the New Year as ‘KIS-worthy’ as possible. Your body will thank you for it.
RECIPE: Healthified KISmas Rum Balls
Makes about 15 Rum Balls
- 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- ¼ cup organic sultanas
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- extra desiccated coconut for rolling the balls
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup organic raw cacao
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp organic vanilla essence
- ½ cup slivered almonds or chopped almonds
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Alternatively, all ingredients can be blended through a food processor.
- Form into medium size balls and roll into extra desiccated coconut.
- Place in the freezer immediately.
- Transfer into fridge when your preferred consistency is achieved.