SLOAN! Magazine spoke to Frida Harju, the in-house nutritionist at leading health and fitness app, Lifesum to find out how to detox effectively in the run up to Christmas. Here’s her advice for a festive “pretox”.
Stop and Feel
It is very easy in winter months to comfort eat and eat more than you would usually. Take a minute to re-evaluate if you need the snack you’re just about to tuck into. It’s a simple way to make sure you’re not eating for other reasons than hunger. How do you feel? Sad, happy, bored, depressed, craving sugar or angry?
Action: A more effective way to avoid these feelings is to go and exercise. So if the feeling you’re spotting is anything else than hunger – get yourself up and take a brisk walk!
As we get the majority of our vitamin D in the summer, in the darker winter months we might find ourselves lacking. Fatty fish is a good source of vitamin D, with salmon or tuna being the most popular options. Along with the vitamin D the fish also provides you with omega-3 fatty acids, which is also good for your heart function.
Action: In the morning start with some mackerel on toast, or if you’re not a fish lover make instead a delicious egg breakfast (egg yolk is great for vitamin D) and wash it down with some fortified orange juice.
It can be very difficult to get yourself to the gym during the winter months, especially when it is so warm inside. However, it is important to start active, so go for a brisk walk, join an indoor club or even work out at home! However, if you do choose to go outside make sure you choose a well-gritted path, as covered as possible from the wind and most importantly, keep your cool downs brief!
Action: Avoid cooling down for too long as you will start to feel freezing and could be at risk of catching a cold.
Make sure you drink plenty of water during the day if you know you are attending an event later, as this will save you from going to the party dehydrated. Dehydration is often confused with hunger and you may find yourself reaching for the food rather than water when you arrive.
Action: Drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day to stay hydrated.
Filling the plate
Fill your plate wisely at parties… I usually limit myself to one plate of food and make sure that half of my plate is vegetables/salad and the other half is as protein based as possible. Once the canapés/party food are chosen, make sure to move away from the platters, so that you are not tempted to re-fill the plate.
Action: Choose carefully where you socialise, trying to stay clear of food to avoid the temptation to graze.
Comfort food without the guilt
It is unreasonable to cut out all winter comfort foods, but it is easy to be creative and substitute high-fat ingredients with healthier alternatives. For example, if you take mac and cheese, and used low-fat cottage cheese instead of the butter and cream, it cuts out over half the fat content whilst having a rich flavour.
Action: If you are cooking up a big meat sauce or chilli, I would suggest skipping out the white pasta and potato and adding some Greek yoghurt and a sweet potato instead.
Look after your cholesterol
As mentioned it can be tempting to indulge in cholesterol-rich and comforting foods during winter. While an occasional indulgence is great, don’t forget to watch your cholesterol. A great option is snacking on healthy nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts, which are all great options for lowering cholesterol, as well as being good for the heart. However, they are high in calories, so practice portion control!
Action: Drinking tea also acts as a great cholesterol controller, as it reduces your blood’s lipids and your risk of heart disease.
Lastly, I would say, look at Christmas in a relaxed way, without your conscience taking over. It is a celebration and you don’t want to miss out on enjoying it. It doesn’t matter so much what you are eating between Christmas and New Year, it is much more important to watch what you eat between New Year and Christmas! Dedicate one or two days of celebrations to eating in moderation, but make sure to eat the foods that you enjoy.
Action: In the run-up to Christmas, enjoy all the treats available in moderation, perhaps saving them for the weekends.
Frida Harju, 25, from Uppsala, Sweden joined health app, Lifesum (www.lifesum.com) in February 2015 as the in-house nutritionist. Passionate about health, fitness and food, Swedish-born Frida’s experience is already helping many of Lifesum’s app users across Scandinavia and Europe to achieve their goals. Before joining Lifesum, Frida graduated from Uppsala University in Sweden, where she was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science. She then began giving nutrition lectures, at both large and small companies. At Lifesum, Frida is responsible for all the health and nutrition related content within the app, which includes monitoring the quality of the calorie counter and the food database. As nutrition is the main focus, Frida is helping to develop the app even further with learnings and nutritional inputs, working together with the rest of the team.