Your guide to a healthy eating in the festive season
Healthy eating seems impossible in the sweets and treats filled festive season, but we are here to tell you it can be done, and even enjoyed. Festive feasting is due to arrive in full force over the next few weeks. So be a sweetie and don’t touch the sweeties. Even the sour ones are bad news for your body.
However, there is no need to start panicking about how fatty roasts, Ouma’s trifle, and uncle’s Bacardi and lime cocktails are going to derail all your health gains.
Make a few good swap outs for the really sugary stuff – but mostly enjoy the meals along with everyone else and you should be off to a good health start for 2022, without sacrificing any joy and festivity.
Work out a plan of action for when you’re not eating. Remember to stay active – don’t neglect your stretching and gym schedule because it’s the holidays; your January self will thank you!
Plan to keep moving in these ways:
- Relax: make up your mind that you won’t descend into abysmal unhealthy eating if you fall off the low-carb tea trolley. You need to relax, take a few deep breaths, do some stretches and resolve to eat clean with your next meal.
- Never lie down after eating: plan to do the washing up, clear away the leftovers and dining room or go for a walk after every meal instead of flopping down on the couch for a snooze or binge-watching movies.
- Plan work-outs: schedule your work-out times. Gym or walk, lift weights for muscle training and building, do lunges or stretches. Arrange to go on mountain hikes or extra-long coastal walks with like-minded family and friends. Make time for balance by doing some tai chi or yoga. Just keep moving because exercise helps to stimulate digestion and assimilate all the nutrients that you’ll be consuming, says WebMD
- Schedule your appointments: the festive season is usually for random dropping in to catch up with friends. Use the COVID-19 pandemic to take a breather and schedule meet-ups at bistros that have outside seating areas with a good view so that you won’t overdo the binge eating, and you’ll come away energised and inspired by your encounters.
- Ditch the car: take a walk, ride your bicycle to the shops, or do errands. In this way, you burn calories and not petrol.
- No need to be online: Ditch your phone, laptop, and router. Read a book, have a relevant conversation with a loved one or do the next meal prepping by chopping the veggies ahead of time.
- Do something new: begin writing that book or join the salsa dance classes in the studio nearby. Learn another language or go for surfing lessons
- Rest well: choose to catch up on your 8 to 9 hours sleep too. All parties and no rest makes for a less exciting life and times.
Tackling the meals
By planning, you gain control over meal preparation, such as choosing to eat whole, fresh foods and avoiding sugary, oily and processed foods drenched in preservatives.
According to Flora, schedule set meal times as this helps create a foundation of healthy eating behaviours for you and your family, especially during the bustling holidays when the panic around food preparation often causes family tension.
You don’t want that, so planning to sit down together over nourishing meals creates a healthier family time. And in your plan for balanced and nutritious meals: sodium content, the number of trans-fats, the portions are all things to consider.
When it comes to constructing your meal plans, always choose to start your day with a healthy breakfast as this kick-starts your day and you need only have a nutritious snack like a handful of nuts and seeds or a fruit before you eat your main meal at midday.
Dietitians recommend that you:
- Choose at least one or two foods from each of the following four food groups for every meal: vegetables and fruit, grains, dairy or dairy substitutes, and animal or plant-based proteins.
- Whole foods such as vegetables, fruit and grains should make up at least three-quarters of your plate.
- Choose to cut back on salt and add intense flavours such as dried vegetables; oregano, thyme or liquorice-flavoured tarragon; lemon juice and other citrus juice and zest as salad dressings or into white meat meals such as fish or chicken; cinnamon to give a sweet taste to oatmeal and berries, fruit or squashes and sweet potato. And for a flavourful kick to grills, savoury and spicy dishes, you can’t go wrong with black pepper, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper.
- Use your braai, grill, air fryer, and oven for cooking meats and vegetables for all the crispy flavours with a minimal amount of oil.
- Drink water flavoured with cucumber slices or herbs instead of sugary carbonated drinks. Carbonated drinks fill you up with gas and bloat fast.
- Use healthier replacements such as brown rice instead of white rice; mushrooms instead of meat; coconut and cinnamon covered dates instead of cakes; frozen desserts made with coconut milk and naturally sweet with berries, bananas, kiwis or mangoes.
And if you have a get-together, instead give away left-overs such as fatty foods, sugary puddings, cakes, and salty snacks.
How do I know if the doctor I need is on the Network?
Affinity Health has made it very easy for you to check whether or not your desired physician is covered.
Finding your nearest GP is as easy as going to Affinity Health’s website and clicking on the Find a Doctor tab. You should see this tab under client resources. Then type in your city or town.
And just like that, you will have access to a complete list of doctors listing their names, addresses and contact details.