In this short video Anna looks at the challenges of eating healthy over the Christmas and the new year.
Watch the video to get advice on how to make better food and alcohol choices over the festive period without missing out. These tips can be used for other celebratory events and holidays throughout the year.
Anna also talks about eating on a budget and gives some great tips on how we can all save money by meal planning and preparation, reducing waste and cooking methods.
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Anna: So let's consider first of all the healthy eating challenges that come this time of year, and this isn't relevant just to the festival of Christmas, but also to other cultural and religious events that celebrate feasting. And that can come with a lot of extra rich food that we may not be used to, as well as a lot of the extra calorific content with extra courses and lots more snacking. And combined with that, possibly the reduced opportunity to exercise, as well as reduced sleep with added social events and juggling with work and so on.
And the impact on that can be increased weight as well as digestive symptoms such as indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, and bloating. And if we are susceptible to heart conditions, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, that can also be the impact on those as well.
So what to be mindful of? Well, the first webinar in the Feed Your Body Clock series, that was recorded a couple of days ago, looked at food for energy, and in that we talked a lot about blood sugar imbalance. And that can really be triggered by food choices such as the simple carbohydrates that can cause our blood sugar to spike and then to dive. And repeating that frequently can put a lot of pressure on our blood sugar and can be a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.
So what do we do when we are presented with that amazing buffet of beige food? Where do we go with that? So we don't want to be the party pooper that is constantly saying, “No thank you.” We want to be enjoying the festive period and celebrating it fully as well. We don't want to have that fear of missing out, so how do we find the moderation? What do we look for?
So those simple carbohydrate foods are the ones to try and reduce, so rather than bulking up on your bread and crisps and all the pastries and so on, we don't want to be piling all of those types of foods onto a plate, but combining them with protein sources and healthy fat sources. So when we’re confronted with those foods, just perhaps consider the different food groups and try and get a good combination.
And we talked about different examples of those, again, in the Feed Your Body Clock webinar, so you can refer back to that if you need to.
And then think about the impact. If you've had a night of overindulging and your food choices the next morning. Unfortunately that is going to be a time where we might be craving either sweet foods or a lovely big full English breakfast to try and soak up perhaps some excess alcohol.
So again, being mindful of those food choices the next day, and going for perhaps a vegetarian full English breakfast, where adding in some vegetables is really going to help with adding in some fibre and helping to detox from the night before. And again, if we are looking at buffet food, we're trying to just get a few vegetables, or some salads, or some fruits onto that plate as well, along with all those lovely crispy and cheesy treats that we have at this time of year.
And then consider maybe putting some distance between yourself and all the piles of chocolates, whether that's at work or at home, and perhaps just be drip feeding those a bit rather than having them all just sitting around and tempting you for the whole time. So perhaps putting them out of sight a little bit and just having a few little and often out on display, so that's some tips with eating.
In terms of alcohol choices, again it's a perhaps a case of just being mindful about the choices and how much you are going to be happy with drinking at different events. So perhaps having that agreement with yourself before you head out, and thinking about your alcohol choices. So cocktails that are very creamy are going to be more calorific rather than other alcoholic drinks.
And again, perhaps just considering moderation rather than going excess where you might then be tempted with late night munchies, the late night kebabs and so on. And also it's going to have that impact on your sleep and how you feel the next day. So just perhaps making some decisions with yourself before you go out and make those choices.
So then we're going to come to eating on a budget. With rising fuel and food prices, budgeting for your weekly shop is a real issue, so where can we make some savings. While all of the supermarkets are offering various different deals and so on, so it's worth shopping around, and both Aldi and Lidl both reporting large rises in a number of customers due to their competitive prices, so it really is worth shopping around if you have the time. And looking at where a lot of your budget goes can be really helpful, so stopping to take a look at your budget. Where is most of your money going on your food and drink bills? Are there a lot of impromptu takeaways? Are you spending a lot on takeaway coffees, for example?
And particularly at this time of year with your festive pumpkin lattes and so on, they can be easily £4 or £5 a mug, so is it worth investing in your own takeaway travel cup and making your own coffee before you leave the house. You could make some significant savings. And then planning – planning here is going to be the key to your success.
Planning your weekly meals, planning the catering for when you've got guests over during the festive period, looking at your numbers, and trying to reduce the amount of waste that can happen. There's a great website Love Food, Hate Waste – and I'll put a link to that at the end of this video – that helps you with measuring portion sizes, trying to reduce waste, but also gives some great ideas on being creative with your leftovers. So looking to reduce waste can be a really helpful way in making some savings.
Also, before we get to the festive period, take a look in your fridge, your larder, and your freezer, and again, maybe get creative in using up all of those foods so that you've got space for when we do that big food shop. And looking at frozen options, particularly of vegetables, of things that are out of season at the moment like berries, but even things such as your puff pastries can be so much cheaper if you buy them frozen, so that can be a really good saving.
And then if you are out and about with friends, socially, just be mindful about how easy it is to just be tapping away now in such a cashless society that we're in. It can be easy to lose track on spending, particularly if you get yourself caught up in expensive rounds, and so maybe just learning to say no to people is actually OK. It's OK to say no. We're not going to be hurting feelings; people are aware that budgets are tight.
And then finally we come to cooking methods, and here's some good ways of saving some pennies when we're actually in the kitchen. So if you're going to have the oven on, heating up the oven, you want to be filling your oven as far as possible. So planning ahead on what you could get cooked in the oven if you're cooking a main meal, are there some puddings or desserts, crumbles for example, that you need to be making later in the week that can go in the oven whilst you've got it switched on. So filling the oven shelve as much as possible can be a good saving. Also perhaps investing in a slow cooker is another way of reducing the need to have the oven on, and just have that simmering away nicely at a lower temperature. So a slow cooker can be a really good investment.
Also to reduce the number of hob plates that we have on at any one time, steaming vegetables, you can get all your vegetables into there, easily, for a family of four to six. You can then use your water in the bottom for making sauce and gravies as well which would be lovely and nutritious from the vegetable water, and that's only using one ring.
And then we have the soup maker which I championed in the webinar on Monday. This can be a real game changer in saving time and energy. You can just pop all your raw vegetables inside, press go, set it on for 20 minutes, and it blends it all up, and you've got some wonderful soup in there. So again, you can get your leftover veg in there, your wonky veg, anything that's just slightly going off a little bit but before it's gone off completely is brilliant for using in soups. Similarly with fruit that's just starting to turn, you can get that into a smoothie before anything actually goes off.
And so look at perhaps are you wanting to save up for something? Watching all those pennies at the moment? Yes, you're covering all of those essential bills, but if you perhaps have some incentive of making some savings, and that can give you a really good motivation for just reviewing where the money's going on your food bills right now. OK, so let's just do a little recap.
So here are some dos – do plan your budget, work out in advance how much you've got to spend on the food and drink for the festive period. Plan your meals, just buy the ingredients that you need for each meal and that will help with not putting in unnecessary extras that may well go to waste. Get creative with your leftovers, and in a couple of slides time I'll show you some resources to look at with some ideas. And watch your portion sizes; when there's so much food around just get used to taking the amount that you want and then walk away.
Manage the amount of chocolates that are out on display; keep some tucked away for a later date rather than having everything out tempting you right from the beginning. And find the right balance for you to enjoy yourself. And here are the don'ts – during the festive period, don't start a diet. Don't go to parties hungry. Don't feast on simple carbohydrates and unhealthy snacks. Don't worry about saying no thank you. Don't get caught out with uncontrolled spending. Don't get side-tracked with the fear of missing out. Don't get into expensive rounds, and don't give into those unnecessary late night munchies. Remember, you are the destiny of your own health, nobody else is.
And here I leave you with a few resources – there are so many out there now that are helpful in helping us to eat healthily on a budget, and I'll just leave you with these five. And have a great festive period; I look forward to catching up with you in the new year.
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Our next nutrition webinar 'what, when and how to eat' takes place on Monday 9 January you can secure your place now
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