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Indulge without the bulge

Five healthy habits to adopt this festive season…

Finally on track to reaching your goal weight? Catherine Clark, owner and founder of The Harvest Table advises not to waste all your hard work this festive season by throwing caution to the wind and eating everything that comes your way.  She says, “Many of us see the holidays as an opportunity to let loose and overindulge, but come January we are riddled with guilt and regret.”

She adds that whilst December isn’t necessarily the time to lose weight, you don’t have to put on weight either, “The fact is that you will be tempted to overeat and do less exercise, so key is not to deprive yourself, but rather to navigate the festive season so that you can indulge without the bulge,” she says.

Catherine offers these five healthy habits to adopt this festive season:
  1. Don’t drink your calories: Most alcohol, juice and carbonated drinks are high in sugar and can significantly contribute to your calorie intake. What tends to happen is that you don’t realise you are on your third drink, and by then, you’ve consumed empty calories that can lead to weight gain. Choose low-calorie alcohol alternatives or non-alcoholic options like water or soda water, flavoured with fruits, herbs and extracts which will help quench your thirst without the added sugar.
  2. Steer clear of the snack table: The best way to navigate the snack table is to not socialise around it as this will lead to mindless eating. Also, instead of ‘finger-picking’, dish up your snacks (even crisps!) on a small plate. According to Harvard Health Publishing being distracted or not paying attention to a meal tends to make people eat more. As such, you can also adopt mindful eating habits and ask yourself simple questions like, “Am I hungry or am I just eating because there is food?”
  3. Eat your greens first: Reach for the green leafy vegetables before you pile on foods with high fat and sugar content. Fill half your plate with healthy vegetables and eat those first as this will prevent overindulging because there will be less room for the rich-food items. One way to achieve this is by using the 60/40 rule, which is an extension of the 80/20 rule. While at a gathering, you can eat 60% nutritious food and 40% of your favourite things to help you stay on track with your goals.
  4. Watch your eating in the day so that you don’t have to at night: Most festive season activities go into the evening, so if you know that you going to an afternoon/evening event, eat low-energy-dense foods over breakfast and lunch, and watch your portions. This way, you can space out your energy intake, ensure that you’re full throughout the day, and you will have a chance to enjoy supper with no guilt.
  5. Drink lots of water: Water has zero calories and many benefits like helping you stay hydrated, maintaining the balance of body fluids in your body and easing constipation. Plus, it keeps you fuller for longer! Your body is comprised of 60% of water which is necessary for functions such as digestion, transportation of nutrients, the creation of saliva and more, so it’s good to drink it throughout the day. Always carry a water bottle with you, and if you’re entertaining at home, make sure to place a jug of water where you can see it as it will be easier for you to drink.
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“The festive season doesn’t have to result in extra kilos by January. The important thing is to be mindful and adequately prepare to ensure that you don’t regret your food choices and the consequences thereof,” Catherine concludes.

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