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How to clean up your diet after Christmas
Christmas, the party season which brings days of good food and drink. And whilst it is so important to enjoy the festivities, as we near towards New Year’s Eve, we can feel like we have indulged a little too much. ‘Cleaning’ up your diet after Christmas is not implying that the holiday season is unclean – more that your normal eating routine is thrown out of sync. Cleaning up your diet after Christmas is about realigning focus to a balanced plate with the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals, whilst still enjoying your food as much as you do over the Christmas period. These are really simple steps to reorient your focus and go into January feeling amazing.
Don’t beat yourself up
The most important thing to remember after Christmas is that the season is supposed to be enjoyed, and therefore you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about it when it comes to enjoying and indulging over Christmas. It is truly the most magical time of year and therefore is supposed to be enjoyed, through party platters, mince pies, chocolates, Christmas pudding and roast turkey. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it, would it? Therefore, it is imperative to remember there is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. It’s a few weeks of the year and it is the most special time for spending with friends and family, time which is ultimately essential for our mental wellbeing too. When you’re thinking about moving into the new year, focus on the amazing time you had over Christmas rather than the food you ate. Nobody has any reason to start the year with Christmas food guilt.
Focus on eating five a day
The best starting place for getting your diet back on track is focusing on eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The concept of eating five a day stems from NHS advice, based on World Health Organisation research which states that 400g of fruits and vegetables can reduce serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. In line with NHS advice, one portion of fruit and vegetables is 80g, the equivalent to one apple, one banana, one slice of melon or when it comes to smaller fruits, 14 cherries or 2 satsumas. Dried fruit also counts, as well as tinned or canned fruit and all vegetables in 80g portions. Frozen fruit and vegetables count too! So ultimately the choice is huge, and the best part is, you can pick the fruits and vegetables that you enjoy. Having said that, fruits and vegetables all pack a very nutritional punch, so consuming a variety means your body has more chance of gaining a wealth of benefits from all the different vitamins and minerals.
So how can you get more fruits and vegetables into your diet? These are our top tips:
- Add a fruit or vegetable to your breakfast bowl or plate. This could be grilled mushrooms or tomatoes with your eggs and bacon, or it could be sliced banana, strawberries or blueberries on your cereal, porridge or yoghurt. If you are more of a two slices of toast kind of person, have a banana or an apple alongside (sliced banana on peanut butter toast is pretty yum!) You could also have a glass of 100% fruit juice (the least added sugar the better) Replace your morning biscuit and tea with a piece of fruit and/or vegetable. Hummus with celery or carrot is a great morning snack to keep you going until lunch, or orange, apple or pear.
- Make sure your lunch contains at least two portions. If you’re having a sandwich, ensure you have some salad in there. Instead of crisps or a chocolate bar, opt for a piece of fruit or veg-based snack. If you’re having something hot like pasta, add some spinach or red peppers to the mix. Stir-frys and soups are another great way to get your 5 a day.
- Make sure your dinner also contains at least two portions. There are so many ways to incorporate fruit and vegetables – including beans and pulses in your dinner, a portion of veg in the microwave or adding frozen peas which take 3 mins on the hob. If you’re having meat, add veg. If you’re having fish – add veg! Even a jacket potato or pasta, have a side of salad or spinach on the side.
- Use it as an opportunity to great creative, add variety and try different fruit and vegetables. Make it a family challenge to try a new piece every week.
*Please note that potatoes do not count as five a day, along with cassava and plantain. They are considered starchy vegetables, but are full of vitamin C and a great source of energy which makes them essential for a balanced plate, as explained below.
Eat a balanced plate
Refocusing on eating five a day is one step towards getting your diet back on track on January, but fruit and vegetables are important as part of a balanced diet, and therefore, a balanced plate! Balanced means you’re getting sufficient nutrients across the board, including fats, carbohydrates, proteins as well as all the vitamins and minerals that fruit and vegetables contain. It’s all about moderation. We need sugar for example as part of a balanced diet, but too much can be damaging to our health. Here are some top tips on eating a balanced diet:
- Ensure you are getting an adequate amount of protein for your body weight and height. This could be from meat, fish, eggs or beans and pulses if you follow a plant based diet. Aim for lean cuts of meat where possible, and aim for 2 portions of fish a week. One of these ideally being oily – like salmon.
- Base meals around good starchy foods, like brown rice, brown pasta, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Consume dairy products or plant based alternatives fortified with calcium for our bones.
- Eat unsaturated fats (ie ‘healthy fats’) in moderation, like spreads and oils.
- Aim to eat smaller amounts of processed foods, sugars and sweet goods.
- Drink up to 2 litres of water a day.
- A balanced meal may look like this:
- Brown rice with peas, broccoli and a piece of salmon with garlic, chilli, tamari and olive oil.
- Peanut curry containing peppers, courgettes, chickpeas, and sweet potato with brown rice and a side of spinach.
- Shredded lean pork with carrot ribbons, spinach, sweet potato and a yogurt dip.
Try new recipes
January is a great opportunity to take some time to try some new delicious and nutritious recipes. We have a huge range of recipes on our website – why not try some of these?
Enjoy your food!
With all these tips under your belt, hopefully eating healthily in January will be a breeze! Check out our ultimate seasonal calendar to see what it’s season for you to cook with, and lots more recipe inspiration here too.