Continuing fast with the A-Z of a healthy Christmas, trying to embed some thoughts which will help me and also calling on past experiences where I managed a weight loss over Christmas without making myself feel miserable. On with today’s offerings I – K
I is for Icy Desserts
Christmas puds and desserts can be very tempting and what I try to do is either have some of what is on offer and just reduce portion size or go for a healthy alternative. This is easier to do if you are in control of the offering for example if you are entertaining or doing the cooking. It’s easy to switch ice cream for a zesty, zingy, refreshing sorbet which also helps to clear the palate of all the rich stodgy food remnants and reinvigorate the taste buds. I always feel less bloated after a fruity cold dessert and less like I’ve committed some kind of sin.
Another tactic I’ve employed in the past is to use ice cream instead of custard or lashings of fresh cream. This is something you can usually do quite easily when dining out, it is rare to find a restaurant which does not have ice cream. The reason I do this is because custard and lashings of cream can be eaten way too quickly and it is easy to pour on a little too much by accident, once of those whoops moments where it’s in the bowl now so may as well be eaten. Even better use a low fat, low sugar frozen yoghurt.
I find ice cream more controllable in terms of portions, you can ask for half a scoop or one scoop and that’s what you will get. I also like to serve just a slither of it onto a fruit salad and mix it in to coat the fruits with cold creaminess which really feels like a treat. Larger helpings take longer to eat than liquid custard and cream and therefore the sense of having eaten or of just eating can be savoured more and you feel like you’ve actually had something nice rather than bolting something down and not really noticing you ever had it.
Try making your own ice creams and sorbets too, adding lots of healthy berries and trying out recipes with fat reduced dairy and reducing the sugar content in recipes you find. I compensate for the reduced sugar by using more fruit or using a very sweet tangy fruit in the first place. Click on the link to create this fantastic looking dessert to serve up from Driscolls if you are entertaining, it’s a fab alternative to a stodgy fat laden pudding.
Also try making or ordering an iced cocktail, like a fruity slush puppy either with our without alcohol, they are super refreshing, make a great alternative to a dessert and really feel indulgent. I did this a lot when on holiday and I do it when I dine out for special occasions but it’s easy to recreate at home. Just slap some crushed ice into a smoothie machine or bullet and add a couple of hands full of mixed berries, cold filtered water or even carbonated water, add some cranberry juice for a real festive feel and then a glug of whatever tipple takes your fancy, vodka, gin, schnapps, a half glass of champagne… you choose. Blitz it together, pass it through a cocktail strainer and serve up with some sliced citrus, a mini skewer of berries or swizzel it with a cinnamon stick. Perfect.
J is for Jumping Jacks
Enough of food and drinks, it’s making me salivate, now for some exercise. If your gym is closed, if you are away from home, if you are stepping over guests littered around your home there is noting, absolutely nothing preventing you from stepping out into the garden or standing next to your bed and just whacking out five or ten jumping jacks. Even knock out a crafty five while you’re waiting for something to come to the boil in the kitchen. Point is, do not stop moving no matter how much your normal routine is upset.
Getting all of your big muscles moving, especially those in your bum and thighs and upper arms, will increase your heart rate for a moment, get some blood pumping, keep you from becoming totally out of shape and give you a renewed vigour and energy to prevent you slothfully seeing out the festive period.
If you can’t manage a few jumping jacks, punch a couple of pillows, do a couple of lunges, touch your toes, stretch up to the ceiling, pull on a bungee band, anything which just keeps you moving and stops your increasingly supple body from going back into the atrophied state you’ve worked so hard to get it out of. It will be far less of a shock to your poor muscles come January when drag them back to the gym and you will have more chance of getting quickly back into a good routine.
My kids have been instructed to order me to perform ten jumping jacks on demand, whenever they command me to I have to drop everything and get those arms and legs pumping. They will find it hilarious and no doubt it will get video’d once or twice but it will be worth it and will stop me from becoming complacent. I might even get others to join in. It all helps to make Christmas fun.
K is for knitting
This time of year is a good time to think of starting a project for next year or to think about learning a new skill or working something new into your lifestyle to help keep you happy and healthy. That doesn’t have to be a radical dietary or exercise change it can be something as simple as getting the knitting needles out.
I recently developed a love of crochet and knitting and found that I’m quite good at it. I find it relaxing and therapeutic and I am trying to include more relaxing activities into my hectic lifestyle to balance it out and help me to cope better with stress. I am unfortunate in that I eat when I’m stressed or depressed as opposed to most people who lose their appetite, how I wish I was one of those. It is important if you are a stress eater or not to really find time to relax, to unwind and to spend on some creative activity. I think all of us with eating disorders or emotional disorders find it difficult to unwind and to create time for ourselves and those things are important in developing a healthy lifestyle. Remember this is all about health not just weight loss for me.
I’ve been making a crocheted blanket for my daughter which she requested as a Christmas gift but I’ve also got another little project on the go and that is knitting a mood blanket. I took a spectrum of colours from the internet and assigned moods to them. For me yellow is relaxed and chilled out, red is angry and tense, black is sad and depressed, grey is a struggling colour for me, white is optimistic, orange is happy, blue is fresh and alive, green is accomplished and so on. I listed all of these moods (I didn’t go by any colour therapy I went by what the colours mean to me so everyone may be different) and what I am doing is knitting every day for just a few minutes in the colour of wool which sums up my mood for that day. I’m going to do this for a whole year (so I’m only sewing a little bit each day) but it makes me sit down and relax and create, even if it’s in bed right before I go to sleep, or while I’m watching telly in the evening for five minutes. The blanket when finished will also show me how I felt throughout the year, I’ll be able to see how I felt for the majority of my days, which emotions were the most prevalent, enduring or recurrent. I might be surprised or I might be inspired to try to get more happy colours in next year. I’m calling it my mood blanket and I’ve seen someone online who does something similar but crochet’s a granny square a day in her mood colours.
It’s a great activity for relaxation and creativity but it also gives an opportunity to reflect on what has made me feel the way I do that day so that maybe tomorrow I can avoid anything which made me feel unhappy or stressed and replicate things which made me feel happy and good about life and myself.
If you can’t knit or crochet, it’s very easy to do simple patterns and there are tons of You Tube tutorials for beginners and there are classes held around the country which by the way also get you out of the house and socialising if you’ve become a bit of a recluse like many obese people do. Or you could do the same by using colouring pens or pencils and drawing up a tessellation and colouring sections each day.
Simple but useful for relaxation, creativity and reflection. All great for health and all great to combat the stresses and chaos of Christmas.