It really is starting to feel chillier and with Christmas songs now playing, it is hard to escape the fact that the party season is fast approaching. So, I guess now is as good a time as any to get mind and body prepped for the indulgence which awaits us! As you've probably guessed, I’m not talking about shopping and decorations (boo!) but in the lead up to Christmas, it is natural to relax when it comes to our healthy habits – and rightly so! I have definitely noticed my sudden urge for warm, comforting foods - I haven't thought about salad for weeks.
However, it's important we get ahead ourselves now and make some small changes to our routines in order to stay looking and feeling good when eating more...Or rather face a very guilty, bloated, food-coma filled January...?
It really is very easy to inject a little more activity in to our lives which will help to burn off those extra calories and keep us feeling good!
Mince pies, hearty meals, melt in the mouth chocolates and the spicy sweetness of fruity mulled wine – along with the Christmas lunches, parties and socials with our friends, how are we to say no!? That's it... we shouldn't and don't need to but it is all about balance. Too much of one thing and not of another can lead to that downwards spiral and feeling very blue about our bodies come the new year, which in my opinion is unhealthy and can be avoided!
So here is my advice to you...
I like to re-balance my lifestyle at this time of year. By this, I mean if you know you are going to consume many more calories through celebratory drinks, meals or even through the sheer fact it is cold and raining...(#guilty) then balance this up by making the time to do more activity and exercise that day. It will makes you feel 100x better and you avoid the horrid guilty feeling, which often comes after eating too much too often.
NOW really is the perfect time to get in control before you get in to the “CBA it’s Christmas” mindset – which can be rapidly followed by feeling bloated, tired and sometimes irritable or generally feeling rubbish about your body. When it's Christmas it's the time to get on our new party outfits and so feeling confident about our bodies is a must:
"Confidence is the key to all beauty and confidence is
the most beautiful thing a woman can wear"
So my tips are the following:
1. Write a weekly exercise plan. When there are more socials it can be harder to upkeep your normal routine, so take it week by week and plan your exercise when you know you can make it – even if it means getting up 20 mins earlier (It's worth sacrificing...I promise!), eating in to your lunch break or turning up to socials a tad later than planned, again you will feel 100x times better for the effort you've made!
2. Eat a healthy breakfast. If you know you are out for lunch or dinner, start the day off with an extra healthy breakfast, again you won’t feel as guilty if you make a small sacrifice elsewhere. Two boiled eggs sometimes does it for me, it keeps me full and satisfied for ages, plus no sugar is involved and therefore no crash mid morn!
3. Be in control of your sweet tooth. By all means we should enjoy this season but be mindful that if we eat treats throughout the day we will be consuming lots of wasted calories, so we are still hungry for meals and of course these calories all add up! For some of us, we may have been working hard to shed those pounds and tone up – let’s not unwind all the hard work! Limit yourself, by keeping a small handful of chocs to last throughout the day, this way, you'll keep track of how many you're consuming - they soon go!
4. Move more! If there's a lift or an escalator, make the effort to walk! Steps do great things for lifting our bums and help to burn off calories.
5. Take a lunchtime walk. Whatever the weather, put on your coat and take a 10-15-20-30 minute walk, even if it is to the shops to do some Christmas shopping! The fresh air will clear the mind and help you to get back on track if you have lost focus that day.
6. Get straight back on it. After a night/weekend of indulgence – whether that is alcohol, food or both – go for a walk or even better a light jog as soon as you get up. Sweep the cobwebs away and start the day with a healthy, positive mindset!
7. Enjoy and respect your body. Make sure you balance out the unhealthier treat foods with protein and vitamin rich foods. Give your body what it needs not only what it wants or craves this season! Our bodies need vitamins and minerals to help fight off colds and flues, especially at this time of year. Plus these foods keep us fuller for longer, allowing us to resist the unhealthier foods sometimes too!
So, with this in mind I wanted to share with you a healthy, hearty soup. This can be made in to a larger batch and split into portions to last the week or frozen to use whenever! It makes the perfect lunch or dinner before/after a big meal.
Spicy Sweet Potato Soup
…Easy to prepare and extremely nutritious, this soup will leave you feeling warmed and keep you full for hours! Best enjoyed topped with fresh coriander, flaked almonds, a swirl of coconut milk, and a slice of crusty sourdough bread. Leave out the Cayenne Pepper if you don’t want your soup to be spicy. Method below.
Yields: 8 Portions
4 Sweet Potatoes (Around 550g peeled and diced), 1 Red Pepper, 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, 2 Carrots, 1 White Onion, 2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika, 1 Teaspoon Turmeric, 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional), 1 Can Coconut Milk, 1.5 litres Vegetable Stock, Salt and Pepper To Taste.
Steps: 1. Peel and dice the sweet potato, carrots, pepper and onion into roughly 1 inch squares.
2. Heat the Olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish, add the onions and saute until they just begin to turn translucent. Add the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir thoroughly to coat with the spices and olive oil. Continue to saute all the vegetables for a further 5 minutes.
4. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock, stir to combine everything, then place a lid on the saucepan and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes.
5. Blend the soup either in a blender or with a handheld blending stick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Top off your soup with your favourite toppings, I used more coconut milk, dried chilli flakes, lots of fresh coriander and flaked almonds.
Note: Store the soup without the toppings in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze the soup in portions for up to 3 months. Thoroughly reheat before serving.