10-Food-Tips3-copyThis time of the year is notoriously associated with over-indulging! Too much food, drinking, partying, spending! ELLE Fashion‘s online editor, Holly Meadows (@HollyMeadowsSA)† asks Gareth Powell, a qualified nutritionist at USN, for his top ten food tips for the festive season:

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Youíre best off establishing a realistic mindset for your summer getaways. If you know you are busy with day trips and excursions, then donít set the unrealistic goal of 10km trail runs and a super strict eating strategy. Be selective over what you eat and try to include some activity. Itís also important to allow yourself some downtime as, after a busy year, youíll need to rest.

2. Bump Up Exercise

Exercise is a privilige, so donít let it slide to the backburner during this time of year. Aim to get it over and done with first thing in the morning as this will make you feel better for the balance of the day. Donít put it off for the evenings as you will most likely have functions and events to keep you busy. Aim for 30-45 minutes 3-4 times weekly. Nothing beats an early morning beach run!

3. Taper your Meals

Frequent eating is essential for appetite control, proper hormone function and an increased metabolic rate. But, this does not give you carte blanche to overeat! Aim to have a higher calorie meal first thing in the morning as this will help you with increasing your basal metabolic rate and reducing your appetite. Your evening meal does not have to be the largest meal on the menu, so choose two starters, or one starter with a side salad. Keep your meals light, fresh and tasty!

4. Look Good, Feel Good

Try to reach 7-9 hours of sleep every night, limit your alcohol and use some time to look after your skin health, digestive health and immunity. The better your digestion, the better you feel and the better you look! Remove grains in your diet and add in probiotic-rich foods like pickles, miso soup and dark chocolate to help heal your gut and make you feel less bloated and more energetic.

5. Be Prepared to Say No

You will have to have your wits about you at social evenings. If you donít feel comfortable with round after round of drinks or heavy meals and fatty snacks, be prepared to say no. Choose something lighter, with fewer calories thatís easier on your digestive tract. Try to avoid the mindless eating and drinking when youíre out socialising with friends and family.

6. Top up Before You Go Out

Eat a light and healthy snack before you go out to social functions. Look at foods that help suppress your appetite such as a zesty chicken and quinoa salad with mixed lentils, crunchy greens and herbs. If you do this you wonít get cravings for fatty foods and you wonít have to worry about your drink of choice!

7. †Portion Control

If you are out at a sit-down social function, donít overdo it on the portion sizing. By now, you should understand the volume of food that you require to satisfy and fuel your, so donít give in to mindless eating. Donít be scared to change the menu as most restaurants donít mind swapping a starchy carbohydrate for a side salad or some seasonal greens.

8. Donít Punish Yourself

This is your mini Ďoff-seasoní, so donít be scared to indulge every now and again. It will not undo the hard work and dedication that you have put in to your changed lifestyle, but it may just help you relax and enjoy yourself. Donít resent the fact that you have given in, and use it as an opportunity to get yourself back at the gym the next day.

9. Limit Alcohol

Almost all social events are fuelled by alcohol. Try to limit the volume that you consume as it is certainly not a calorie-free beverage. If you do have a white wine or a glass of champagne, have 1-2 glasses of water before you have another. Alcohol increases your appetite and it makes it harder to stay in control of your expectations.

10. Rehydrate

Aim to stay rehydrated throughout the day. This will help keep your skin looking youthful, and keep your organs and bodily functions running on track. Aim for 10-12 tall glasses daily, and possibly more if you train or if you are exposed to hot/humid temperatures.

(First published on Elle.co.za)