12 Tips for a Healthy Festive Season – make a list and check it twice

There are just two sleeps until the jolly man arrives to spread festive cheer and joy! For most of us the festive cheer and joy has been gathering momentum for a while and very often involves things to eat, things to drink, things to eat, things to drink……

Here are my 12 Tips for a Healthy Festive Season to assist your body over the break. Don’t forget to check it twice.

I like to move it, move it

We all know that the festive season means party, party, party. It’s just like managing a bank account and if you are budgeting for big ticket items (like parties or events), this means doing some saving. Choose an exercise that you enjoy and buddy up with a friend.

Choose your drop

We all know that Santa likes the odd drink or two to go with his midnight snacks. The thing is, the nuts, chips, dips and their friends make you drink more. It’s not your fault, they are addictive and persuasive. Fat and alcohol are mates too and togetherness promotes fat storage. Think about eating a healthy snack or meal before you hit the party. This will eliminate the need to pounce on platters of finger food as they sail by and most importantly, less excess baggage in January.

Cold as ice

Summer is hot right? Instead of grabbing a sugary icy pole, try blending some watermelon, fresh lime and ice for a refreshing and healthy treat. Perfect for summer. Simple too. Just remember not to get your tongue stuck on them, it’s awkward.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains a bunch of powerful antioxidants that can do good works in our bodies. Don’t go crazy though – two squares of good quality dark chocolate will do the trick, you don’t need the whole box that you were given!

What’s the time Mr Wolf?

Don’t eat too late at night – this is when your body is least active and not burning a lot of fuel. Eating foods loaded with sugar and fat can mean disturbed sleep and tired eyes the next morning.

Zing

Let’s face it, the festive season can be tiring. Aside from endless festivities – ongoing tiredness and fatigue can be caused by iron deficiency. Iron is essential as it helps oxygen sail around your blood stream and everyone’s after more oxygen aren’t they? Lean red meat is one of the high scorers in the iron department and is a great source of protein and zinc too. Breakfast cereal and legumes are decent sources of plant based iron but need a friend in the form of Vitamin C to assist absorption. Pump that iron people.

Gone fishing

It seems that Western Australia is the favourite place for sharks to hang out. Sharks are multi-skilled, as the finned hunters are not only scary but nutritious too, being low in fat and high in protein. Shark, fish and other seafood (fresh and tinned) are the perfect summer protein full of omega-3 fats which promote healthy hearts and brain function. We can all do with those.

Carb down

Low carb beers are low in carbohydrates but they still contain alcohol and therefore kilojoules. Choosing a low carb beer over a full strength beer will save you about 100 kilojoules. Low carb beer are not the same as ‘light’ beers which are lower in alcohol, so watch out for the false promises of beer advertisers. If you are concerned about your weight try choosing a beer that you enjoy and drinking a bit less of it.

Safety in numbers

With all the mountains of food that we are preparing and eating during the festive season it is easy to get busy and forget about storing our food correctly. To avoid an unhappy stomach and poisoning all of your guests in the process, don’t leave food uncovered on the bench or table, put it straight into the fridge.

It’s all in the eyes

With the year coming to a close, it is no wonder that our eyes can get weary and sore and this can be especially so at night when we are behind the wheel. Carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene which is a form of Vitamin A, known as the ‘vision vitamin’ because it helps prevent night blindness. You never know when you need your night vision goggles on whilst out socialising over summer, so get crunching on a carrot every day.

Mindfulness

Before you eat – be selective, gather only what you need, roll it around a few times and savour it, chew slowly and enjoy. Being mindful means everything tastes so much better and can prevent you from overeating.

Relax, don’t do it

We made it to the end of 2016! Refreshing and regrouping is essential for your well-being and we all need rest and relaxation for a healthy brain and body. Make sure you carve some out for yourself.

Wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy festive season and break! Well done on what you have achieved this year and here’s to next year being your best yet. Thanks so much for being part of my community and I look forward to speaking to you all in 2017.

Ho, ho, ho

Popsicles

Only four sleeps to go!  In the spirit of giving I have some special Christmas gifts for you today.  The first is an article that I was interviewed for with the West Australian Newspaper with some tips and tricks while out partying over the festive season.

The second gift is my Twelve Days of Christmas eBook for an entertaining look at managing your performance over the event we call the festive season.

Enjoy them both and wishing you all a very happy and of course healthy Christmas and a fabulous 2013.

 

On the Tenth Day…

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Ten wombats sleeping…nine crocs a weeping, eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Aaaahhh, sleep.  Can somebody find me some?  I don’t need 8 hours sleep but more than 5 would be a treat.  Too many things to do and three little kids do not make a good recipe for a restful sleep.  I know I am not alone but I also know that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture so bring on the Christmas break I say.  One sleep to go. Which brings me to our fast paced world and our now flexible mealtimes.  When I was growing up my goodest mum had dinner on the table religiously at 6pm and we all sat down and ate together (I am still trying to perfect that myself, unsuccessfully I might add).  Eating early seems to be a thing of the past as we are working longer hours and may have children and other family commitments that prevent us from eating our evening meal at a civilised hour.  Some people find that it is uncomfortable to eat close to going to bed and this is turn will disturb sleep.  Others may not find this to be the case. There is also the question of what you are eating prior to sleeping. Snacking on chocolate (unless its your 4 nightly squares of course), biscuits and cake (many of which are high in fat) are not great choices before you lie down for 8 (?) hours of sleep.  The evening is when your body is least active and therefore not burning a lot of fuel. Essentially, you are the best judge of your own body but if you are experiencing disturbed sleep, acid reflux or other problems, then have a look at your eating habits before bed.

On the Ninth Day….

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…nine crocs a weeping…eight flies a feasting, seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Crocodiles are scary.  Not that I socialise with them all the time.  Some time back when I was doing a nomadic around Australia trip, we stopped off at the Adelaide River in the Northern Territory and hopped onto a boat to spot some crocs. Within minutes there were monster truck versions of the prehistoric animal flinging themselves out of the air  to try and jag some meat off the end of a stick.  I regretted taking the tour immediately as it was wrong on so many levels but as there was only one way of getting off I decided to stay. Crocodiles are THE peak predator with endurance like no other.  Because they are the boss of everyone, they can eat whatever they like. But they don’t.  They hunt only what they need, roll them around a few times and then eat when they need to. Yes, they do occasionally get confused and take a human who happens to be in their feeding ground. I think there is a lesson there that we can use over the next few days.  Be selective, gather only what you need, roll it around a few times and savour it, chew slowly and enjoy. And as a special tip, try not to confuse your fellow diners with the sumptuous fare.

On the Eighth Day….

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…eight flies a feasting…seven possums playing, six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Aren’t flies just the most fantastic aspect of Australian life?  The perceptive amongst you may detect a hint of sarcasm because in real life they truly do drive you mad. Not only are they are a source of annoyance but they are also a seething mass of germs.  With all the mountains of food that we are preparing and eating in the lead-up to the BIG DAY it is easy to get busy and forget about storing our food correctly. So to avoid an unhappy stomach and poisoning all of your guests in the process, don’t leave food uncovered on the bench or table, put it straight in the fridge. And don’t forget to do the same thing on Christmas Day before doing your whale impression on the carpet, so that Sitting Number 2 is fresh and healthy.

On the Seventh Day….

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…seven possums playing…six sharks a swimming, five kan-ga-roos, four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. The instant image that possums bring to mind for me,  is a pair of big bright eyes in the dark in the backyard of my parents house.  My Dad is a prolific market gardener and chook keeper and he often finds that his little ‘friends’ have been busy in the night eating his prize rockmelon or pumpkin flowers.  He has tried ‘Poss Off’, a spray which supposedly deters them but in fact I think it encourages them to come party. The whole seeing in the dark thing reminds me of night vision and carrots.  Carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene which is a form of Vitamin A.  Vitamin A is known as the ‘vision vitamin’ because it helps prevent night blindness and aids the conversion of light into messages for the brain.  Vitamin A is found in other foods such as butter, margarine, liver, eggs and full cream dairy products.  Green leafy and yellow vegetables and fruit also contain Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. You never know when you need your night vision goggles on whilst out socialising over summer, so get crunching on a carrot.  I wonder if possums can actually pull the carrots out of the ground….

On the Fifth Day….

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…. Five kan-ga-roos… four cuddling koalas, three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. One of the first thoughts that comes to mind is lean red meat.  I know that might seem a bit mean to our international readers but in Australia we do multi-love kangaroo’s and by that I mean we admire their beauty and significance in our history but they are also a food source. Kangaroo (and some other game meat) is a very lean meat and is a great source of protein, iron and zinc.  Iron is important on any day but especially important during the Festive Marathon months of November, December and January.  You really do need plenty of energy whilst partying and socialising and iron assists by helping oxygen sail around your blood stream.  Everyone is after more oxygen aren’t they? Iron is known as Haem (animal sources)  and Non-Haem (vegetable derived) iron and the haem iron is absorbed quite a bit more efficiently.  Liver is top dog in the iron stakes with red meat a much lower second, followed by chicken and fish with much lower amounts again.  Breakfast cereal and legumes are decent sources of non-haem iron but need a friend in the form of  of Vitamin C to assist absorption with fruit and vegetables being just the ticket for the Vitamin C factor. Forget Popeye chugging down the spinach with bulging muscles to get his fill, the iron in spinach is very difficult to absorb due to other compounds in the vegetable (oxalates and phytates) which bind the iron and make it unavailable to you. We can always use the hopping skills of kangaroos to inspire some more exercise too.  There is nothing like a spot of hopscotch.

On the fourth day…

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Four cuddling koalas…three little penguins, two pink galahs and a kookaburra up a gum tree. Ahhh, Caramello Koalas.  They are so cute and tasty. I mean the the chocolate variety not the fluffy ones. Just in case you are wondering how they fare in the world of treats, one regular sized koala contains 99 calories and this includes around 1 teaspoon of fat and just over 2 teaspoons of sugar.  If you get sucked into a fundraising vortex and decide to go the Giant version, this effectively doubles the dose.  Well, maybe a bit more if you get guilted into buying the whole box. So should you eat them?  They are quite delectable and can help you experience a moment of bliss, so they are perfectly designed as an occasional treat. But when I know that one little koala is 1/12th of my total calorie intake, I do what I did today.  Go check them out at the zoo…. zero calories, fat and sugar but still the moment of bliss.

On the third day….

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Three little penguins.. two pink galahs and a kookaburra in a gum tree. We know that penguins love a cold climate but when in Australia may need some assistance with generating some frosty feelings.  Heath McKenzie depicts the three little penguins getting stuck into some icy poles.  I do love icy poles but try not to eat too many as they are usually pretty high in sugar.  Watermelon and Lime Ice Blocks are a refreshing and somewhat healthier (contains fibre and Vitamin C) alternative worth a try. Perfect for summer. Simple too. Watermelon and Lime Ice Blocks 125g caster sugar 125ml water 1 vanilla pod 600ml watermelon juice (blend watermelon) juice of 2 limes 1.  Put sugar, water and vanilla into a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves.  Cool, then chill until really cold.  Stir in watermelon and lime juice. 2.  Pour into 12 icy pole moulds or multiple ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Just remember not to get your tongue stuck on them like the three little penguins.

On the Second Day….

Two tips in one day is a lot to take in I know but we need to catch up……On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two pink galahs… and a kookaburra in a gum tree. If the illustrations are anything to go by in the ‘The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas’, the pink galahs are throwing back a couple of cocktails and teasing the kookaburra.  I had a quick word to Santa today at the shops and he did indeed confirm that the galahs do like to imbibe in a few beverages around Christmas and revel in being the life of the party. Just in case you do too, there are some things that might be handy to take on board.  What you choose to drink is a key factor.  Red and white wine and champagne are pretty similar with a 100ml glass containing between 270-295 kJ.  Beer seems like at a winner at 149kJ per 100ml but lets face it, who drinks only 100ml beer?  Can you imagine cracking open a stubbie and then having to give it away after drinking only just under a quarter? Then we move a little higher, onto the spirit shelf.  A spirit like vodka, whisky, bourbon and the like attracts around 270kJ per 30ml shot whilst the elite spirits like Malibu, Baileys or Sambuca contain 420kJ per 30ml but watch out for their friends, the mixer.  A glass of mixer like cola or lemonade contains 420kJ, which can be just as much as the alcohol.  Would you sit down and eat 8-10 teaspoons sugar?  I didn’t think so. Then there are the nuts, chips, dips and the like that make you drink more. Its not your fault, they are very addictive and persuasive aren’t they?  Fat and alcohol are friends too and togetherness promotes fat storage.  Of course I would not suggest that you should drink alcohol and not eat, that would be irresponsible BUT think about eating a healthy snack or meal before you hit the party  This will eliminate the need to pounce on platters of finger food as they sail by and most importantly less excess baggage in January.