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10 Tips for Navigating the Food Festivities

Here’s how to enjoy the holiday trimmings – and still fit into your running shorts.

Even if you run every day during the festive season, you’re not immune to weight creep. In fact, a large percentage of annual weight gain happens in this period because it’s not just one day – it’s a whole season. Here’s how to make it through the eating-and-drinking season without waistline regret.

Pregame Your Party

Make the most of arriving fashionably late by having a healthy mini meal an hour before you go. Make sure you include some quality protein such as salmon, tuna, eggs or chicken and fibre filled carbohydrate such as quinoa, legumes or brown rice, plus veggies. Going to party feeling satisfied will make it easier to limit your intake of energy dense nibbles.

Keep Your Office Stocked

Holiday desserts are loaded with sugar and fat and are generally low in nutrients. So when your colleagues bring in treats, be prepared with some filling, nourishing snacks. Fill your drawer or work fridge with snacks like Greek yoghurt, fresh veggie sticks and hummus, fruit and a small bag of mixed (unsalted) nuts.

Have Treats…

After a run you need to restock your muscles with glycogen and help them recover with protein. This is a good opportunity to satisfy your sweet tooth, as long as you proceed with caution. Reach for desserts that have health benefits such as flavoured yoghurt with fruit salad or milk-based smoothie bowls. Research has shown that your appetite is suppressed for a short time after a workout, making you less likely to overeat post-run.

…But Not Too Many

If you’re logging more mileage this season to offset the holiday spread, you have a little bit of wiggle room for an extra treat. But running a 5K doesn’t earn you the right to eat an entire tray of brownies. Research has found that even highly active people gain weight during the holiday season. Fill up on fruits, veggies and lean protein after your run.

Build the Perfect Dinner Plate

At your next holiday celebration, divide your plate into quarters: fill half with fibre-packed veggies, a quarter with lean protein like turkey or fish and a quarter with nutrient-rich carbs such as sweet potatoes or brown rice salad. For dessert, fill half a small (!) plate with fruit and half with your favourite sweets.

Drink Up

Water, that is. Staying hydrated is especially important in the heat of summer, and it’s also easier to mistake thirst for hunger. Rather than holding a mixed-drink kilojoule bomb or a fully loaded dessert plate, keep your hands (and stomach) full with a kilojoule-free glass of still or sparkling (with lemon!) water.

Limit Alcohol

Yes, it’s important to still celebrate and enjoy your favourite glass of bubbly, but be careful of falling into the trap of drinking each day just because it is the festive season. Alcohol is high in kilojoules (29 per gram), and it can lead to dehydration. Try to limit your intake to two standard drinks per day, and alternate them with water. Have at least two alcohol free days over the festive season.

Be Mindful

Whether your favourite Christmas treat is a dessert, grandma’s Christmas pudding or good quality chocolate, you can enjoy it. Don’t kilojoule count, just take the time to enjoy them – without feeling guilty! You will find that when you listen to your body and eat these treats slowly when you feel like them, they won’t be creeping in every day.

Bring A Plate

When you’re facing endless parties, offer to bring a plate of food and make sure it is a healthier option to balance some of the more indulgent platters that may be on offer. Some great options include prawns, salmon and vegetable mini frittatas, nuts, sushi, stuffed mushrooms, a seasonal fruit platter or vegetable sticks with a tasty dip such as hummus, cottage cheese with herbs or a tomato salsa.

Get Some Sleep

The silly season is a busy one, almost like a marathon itself. Just like when you prepare for a big race, take time to get adequate sleep. This will help you feel energised, continue with your training and choose the healthiest options for you at this time.

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