12 Days of Christmas my Dietitian said to me…
Christmas is upon us and boy do we deserve a holiday this year! Time to hang up on those work responsibilities for a day or week, and focus on ourselves, our friends and our families.
Your dietitian has a few nutritious tips to assist the festive season!
On the first day of Christmas, your dietitian said to me…
Take a minute to think of 5 things you’re grateful for, a moment of gratitude can release happy chemicals (dopamine and serotonin) that enhance your mood and help you feel more positive throughout the day.
On the second day…
Practice Self-Care. Be Kind.
Put yourself first and take time for yourself. Christmas can be overwhelming and there can be a lot of people who want to see you. Put time aside each day to fill your cup with the things that keep you grounded. Movement and meditation are great ways to reduce stress, promote digestion and make you feel relaxed! It’s also important to remember that Christmas can also be a lonely time for some, be wary on the streets and at the shops and be kind to those around you.
On the third day…
Get Adequate Sleep
Holidays, especially Christmas, can be chaotic. Make sure you prioritise your sleep, focusing on quality as well as quantity. Sleep is just as important as regular exercise and nutritious food, and is directly linked to immune function, inflammation and emotional regulation. A minimum of 7 hours a night is recommended for adults. To make sure the hours you do get are quality, think about developing a night time routine involving reduced screen time, a regular bedtime and limiting caffeine intake in the afternoon.
On the fourth day…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also the busiest time of the year. Christmas parties, Uncle Sam’s birthday, friends just arrived home from overseas, the list is endless. Plan head. The date of the event, what you’ll need to take, how you’ll get there, do you need a babysitter, or if someone needs to be a designated driver? Get everyone on board with the planning to prioritise and negotiate so you can all enjoy the holiday period. Planning ahead and even setting a budget can reduce unnecessary stress as well as the amount you spend on gifts and food.
On the fifth day…
Reduce Food Waste
We’ve all been guilty of buying too much food at Christmas and having to dispose of the leftovers. As part of your planning ahead, plan for how many people you have to cook for and make sure you store your leftovers appropriately, avoiding any unwanted spoilage and maximising freshness. When Christmas day is over and the fridge is full of leftovers try slicing your meat and storing it in containers in the freezer for sandwiches, giving vegetables a second life in quiche and even composting your food scraps.
On the sixth day…
Level up your Christmas cooking
Nuts and seeds are an easy, time saving way to take any dish to the next level in nourishment, satiation, crunch and flavour! They offer important fibres, antioxidants, protein, unsaturated fats and consumption has been connected to good heart health. Specifically, walnuts and chia seeds contain essential omega-3’s, which the body can’t make on its own. Omega-3s are important for hormone production, eye and heart health, and reducing inflammation. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t consuming enough!
On the seventh day…
Bring a Dish
What to bring when you don’t know what to bring? Don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen? Not keen on cooking? Nuts and seeds! (…are you sensing a theme?). These spiced nuts are the perfect last-minute throw together, and they make a great DIY gift!
What you’ll need:
- 3 cups of raw unsalted nuts (pre-mixed or make your own mix! Cashew, almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts)
- 4 tablespoons of pepitas
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use coconut)
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (leave it out if you don’t want them hot)
- Salt to taste
What you do:
- Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees and line your baking tray
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well!
- Spread mixture onto the baking tray and bake for 15-18 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
- Remove from oven and let them cool!
- Store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, enjoy them on their own, in a salad, over your meat or as a side!
On the eighth day…
Christmas happens once a year
Food is a predominant part of the festive season and it’s important to enjoy it. Remember to listen to your appetite, eat the rainbow and stay hydrated. Also remember you’re creating food memories!! Pay close attention to flavours, colours and textures, because those meals are the ones that bring back those joyful and happy moments in the future. Remember Christmas happens once a year and not every meal needs to be nutritious.
On the ninth day…
Turn Off Your Phone
Take a step back from the virtual world and focus on the people in front of you. It is no secret we live in a technology fuelled world. After the year that was endless Zooms and facetimes, relish in the fact that you’re sitting in front of people. Be present and connect with those around you, you might be surprised with how much more you move and enjoy yourself.
On the tenth day…
Understanding a Standard Drink
Too much Christmas cheer… hangovers happen! Aside from the immediate nausea and headaches, excess alcohol can have severe consequences on our health. Alcohol causes inflammation in the stomach, liver and pancreas making it harder for those organs to function. A standard drink is equivalent to 10grams of pure alcohol, which also looks like; 285ml full strength beer, 100ml of red or white wine and 30ml of spirits. To limit your consumption alternate water and alcohol, opt for a refreshing mocktail, plan alcohol free days and always eat before and while you are drinking.
On the eleventh day…
Not just after a big night, but always. Water is essential of whole-body homeostasis (equilibrium), and we are approximately 75% water! Drinking water helps digestion, regulates our temperature and improves sleep quality. For the average male, 10 cups a day, and for women 8 cups. Carry a water bottle with you and end your day with a herbal tea!
On the twelfth day...
Kick start the new year by creating some SMART goals! Reflect on the year; what went well, what didn’t work, what you would do differently. Forget about setting unrealistic standards for yourself, the time for achieving is now. SMART goals are Simple, Maintainable Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. With your health in mind, some goals to include could be improving water consumption, eating a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, cooking more meals at home, setting time aside for yourself… the rest is up to you!
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays,
Relax and enjoy!
By Georgia Lamrock, Student Clinical Nutritionist @tasteful_tucker