The silly season is in full swing, and the health and fitness switch is nearly in off mode. One advantage of being in New Zealand is that the price of fruit and vegetables is usually more forgiving at this time of year, and there is a large variety to choose from.
The good news is this Christmas you don't have to focus on missing out on mince pies or feeling guilty about enjoying endless Christmas lunches. The following are some easy ways to minimise the Christmas kilos without missing out on your favourite festive food and drink.
BEATING THE BOOZE
When alcohol is consumed the body will prioritise the processing of it because it is a toxic substance.
In New Zealand we haven't quite grasped a complete definition of moderation, so if we can understand how the body works it is easier to minimise the effects of alcohol and enjoy your preferred drink of choice.
WHAT DRINK IS BEST?
The answer to this question is subjective. Most alcohol is going to have a similar effect on liver function, which can affect how we metabolise our food and increase the production of blood cholesterol.
The lower the percentage of alcohol, the easier it will be for the liver to recover.
Eating particular foods on the day of drinking alcohol can assist the liver in recovery and minimise the risk of a hangover the next day.
The frequency and rate of consumption can be more detrimental than the type of alcohol. Even avoiding alcohol will not necessarily help you fend off the Christmas kilos.
Alternatives to alcohol can still be high in calories and sugar. Opting for water or soda water alternatives, and adding your own flavourings such as fresh herbs and berries, is a healthy option between drinks.
Like a good exercise plan, it is important to have rest days away from drinking. Minimise drinking alcohol at home for the sake of it and leave it to your social occasions.
At this time of year this can be most days, so include fruit and vegetables such as cucumber, tomatoes, oranges, broccoli or carrots where possible on the same day as drinking.
Eating carbohydrates high in water on the day of drinking alcohol can also help, such as kumara, potato, pumpkin, parsnip, beetroot or rice.
Be mindful of your portion size and ensure you serve them with a good source of lean protein to keep you satisfied for longer. These sources of carbohydrates contain the most water content when eaten closest to their natural form.
It is usually how we prepare potatoes that give them a bad a reputation - steaming or microwaving can help retain more nutrients.
GO FOR GREEN
Chlorophyll is what makes vegetables green and it is helpful for fighting free radicals, and can minimise premature ageing and help protect against cancers.
Chlorophyll can be affected by the cooking process, so aim to only lightly cook vegetables if the cooked colour is significantly different to the raw version.
Green vegetables are a good source of absorbable multivitamins - they are rich in iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium, which are important for fluid balance. They also can contain vitamins K, C, E and a few of the B vitamins for energy.
Their natural fibre content can help stablise blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
PRE-TOXING AND RE-TOXING
Preparing your body to handle the foods and drinks that you love is the easiest way to stay in shape this summer. However, in our fast-paced lives we often don't know what the day will bring. If an impromptu alcohol-drinking opportunity presents itself and you haven't prepared your body earlier that day, you can help your liver by "retoxing" the next day.
SIX WAYS TO RETOX THIS SILLY SEASON
1. Have an alcohol-free day the next day, or start the day with coconut water, a banana, apple, orange and probiotic yoghurt.
2. Choose a lunch that includes rice or root vegetables as the carbohydrate source.
3. Match the carbohydrate with your favourite protein food to help sustain your appetite.
4. Minimise dry carbohydrates such as crackers, bread, pastries, wraps and muesli bars that provide little water content for the body to recover.
5. Include vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, celery or carrots to help minimise inflammation.
6. Watch your portion size at dinner if you have been out for lunch on the same day.