‘Tis the season to be jolly, and if (like most South Africans) your family and friends see the festive season as a good excuse to dish up all their best-loved treats, you know what that means – here come those extra kilograms you’re going to have to shake in January
According to Alex Royal, a registered Capetonian dietitian with a genuine passion for dietetics and nutrigenomics, the key lies in outsmarting your sweet tooth. Although the delicious treats on offer over the festive season may not all be sweet, the same principles apply for rich, filling savoury snacks. “Too much mindless snacking can cause unwanted weight gain, be harmful to your gun biome and affect everything from depression to digestion,” explains Alex.
Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can keep your cravings under control over the holidays. Here are a few tips from our expert:
Stick to your regular mealtimes
“The worst thing you can do is let yourself get so hungry that you lose all control over your next food choice. So plan ahead, make sure you are not skipping meals,” says Alex. If you’re on holiday with a big group that tend to make a bigger meal later in the day, simply do your own thing. You don’t necessarily need to make a huge fry-up for breakfast or go all out for lunch – make yourself a green smoothie or enjoy a simple tuna salad.
Create variety in your diet
“Cravings are often the result of imbalanced meals,” says Alex. For instance, your meals may lack fibre to keep you feeling full, or be too low in protein to keep satiated. You may also be low on Omega 3 or certain micronutrients. Eat the rainbow and fill out your meals with fresh fruit and veggies to keep things on an even keel.
Craving sweets? Keep it natural.
“When a craving for something sweet hits, instead of running for the sweet drawer try something that will give you fuel,” recommends Alex.
Get enough sleep
“It may seem unrelated to some, but the amount of sleep you get directly correlates with cravings. We’ve all been there. You didn’t get a great night sleep, but you need to be productive the next day, so you depend on caffeine and sugar for a boost,” says Alex. Reduce the need for these short-term fixes over the festive season by making the most of your downtime and getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night.
Stay properly hydrated
“We often confuse our thirst for hunger, so before you grab the processed snack, drink a bottle of water, sparkling water or tea and see how you feel,” recommends Alex.
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