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Nutritionist tips to avoid overeating during this Festive Season

Holiday season is one of the most exciting seasons of the year, where we get to spend time with our loved ones, attend joyful parties and eat delicious food. As fun as it sounds, unfortunately many people start to feel anxious and uneasy leading up to the Festive Season.

“Dear friends, please let me introduce to you Marianne Grechko from Balance Nourish Nutrition. I met Marianne very randomly in Whole Foods, London around 4 years ago. We shared a conversation randomly and exchanged numbers (like you do with strangers). Since then we became really good friends, have witnessed a lot of growth in each other and I, personally, learned and learning so much from her. Marianne has a strong passion for health and wellbeing. She is always very drawn to nature, which I love about her. As we both come from Baltics, hence we share our mutual love for forest and wilderness. Marianne is a life long learner, she loves to question things, explore and connect with everything using not only her mind but the heart too. 

I am so honoured to have her and I am delighted to announce that Marianne will be a regular contributor to Lena Wild blog, so please feel free to request your topics and questions, we will try to accommodate them!” – Yelena x

This is largely down to the hype that has been created about Christmas over the years. We have been influenced to believe that it is the time where we must over consume in number of ways to feel complete and happy. Yet, this uncontrollable binging of foods, alcohol and material things leaves lot of us in post-festive despair.

We all know, food is our primary source of nourishment and energy. We need to eat to stay alive and healthy. But how to do it in the way that is not abusive to our bodies or disrupting our inner balance? What is the solution to this deeply etched mentality where we need to fit into “social norms” in order to feel validated? Like with everything in life, solution always lies within ourselves. As human beings, by birth we are innately wise and significant. It just happened that somewhere along the way we lost the trust in ourselves and handed the responsibility and power over to someone else, to dictate what is right and best for our health and happiness. I strongly believe that our power lies in self-acceptance and education.

One major worry for many over the festive season is overindulging and gaining extra pounds. According to eating disorders charity BEAT, the latest statistics indicate that there are 1.6 million people in the UK alone who are battling with disordered eating, and this is only an official figure. We are not event talking about the unofficial numbers here. Working with clients I have come across too many individuals who suffer with some form of distorted relationship with food. We don’t necessary always have to label them. Christmas is a time where many lose control of themselves and end up feeling like failures and extremely guilty afterwards. Then comes January, beginning of the new self on a new diet or a weight loss program, in my experience, long term failure and more guilt. Recognise the pattern? I certainly do! Unfortunately, the only side who benefits from this dead circle is the money-making weight loss industry.

To help you stay sane this Christmas I’ve put together some gentle eating and lifestyle suggestions for laying long-term foundation when it comes to food and healthy relationship with it:

  • Don’t skip mealtimes – Even though it feels very tempting to leave out meals in order to preserve space in the stomach for the later feast, it is actually one of the most typical mistakes people make. By the time it’s late afternoon/evening, the blood sugar levels would have dropped so low that over eating is an inevitable consequence. Always be sensible with how much you eat. If you feel like you haven’t got appetite or are too full, don’t force yourself, go with your body’s signals. Aim for three main meals a day as you would normally, making sure your plate is balanced with vegetables, complex carbs, healthy fats and protein. Protein consumed with each meal sustains feeling of fullness for longer.
  • Connect with food – This is probably what majority of people don’t do these days anymore. Connecting with your food is a simple practice that needs to be relearned and consciously applied. Before starting your meal, it is important to take in the visual appearance of it, smell it and then chew every mouthful for about thirty times. Eat slowly and really enjoy your food. This exercise activates sensory neurons in the brain, starts the breakdown of macronutrients in the mouth and fully kicks in the digestion process.
  • Fruits and vegetables – Be generous with vegetables, especially Brussel sprouts. They are incredibly healthy supporting body’s detox system, antioxidant system and anti-inflammatory system. When it comes to fruit, use them to swap some of your chocolates and cakes. Great options are clementines, grapefruits, pomegranates, papayas and apples with the skin. These particular fruits are a great source of phytonutrients, enzymes and fibre supporting body’s natural elimination processes.
  • Stay hydrated – As we all know, festive season can often involve too much alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic substance, making you pee out more water than you take in. To avoid dehydration, match every glass of alcohol with a glass of water. For flavour add in a slice of lemon or orange. Water is a great way to flush unwanted toxins from the body. Another great way to stay hydrated is herbal teas. My favourite ones for digestion are fennel, lemon and ginger, peppermint, artichoke or any nice digestive combination that can facilitate smooth easy digestion.
  • Move – Christmas time tends to be mainly sedentary, with lots of lazing around. This means your digestive system is scrunched up and can’t function optimally. Between meals, practice easy stretching exercises to stimulate the contraction  of the digestive tract. Here are some of my favourite ones, Simple Stretches for Too-Full Feeling. Or, put on warm clothes and go for a nice brisk walk in the park. Moving and fresh air has a positive effect on the mood too.
  • Digestive aid – I always like to keep probiotics and enzymes for “emergency” occasion in my kitchen cupboard. My favourite products are Digestive enzymes and Multi Strain Biotics by Wild Nutrition. This particular enzyme complex is derived from natural fermentation process producing a broad spectrum blend of protease, lipase, amylase, lactase and cellulase. I recommend taking enzymes 45 minutes to an hour after eating. This way you are following body’s natural function avoiding over flooding the digestive system with external enzymes. Probiotics on the other hand can be taken first thing in the morning to support normal gut function. This probiotic blend has eight different strains and does not contain any FOS or GOS to reduce the growth of unwanted bacteria. Probiotics are an excellent way to help reduce bloating and facilitate absorption.

This Christmas season above everything else, be kind to yourself. Accept ‘you’, exactly the way you are, whatever your shape or size. Embrace yourself, there in no one else like you out there. Once we understand the concept of self, we don’t need others to tell us what is our value. We also don’t need to depend on material things to feel fulfilled. A little mantra that you can repeat to yourself on daily bases is “I am enough just the way I am!”. Repeat this as many times as you need until it sticks in your mind and becomes a habit. Soon, you will notice how your decisions and needs start to change.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Marianne x

Marianne is a founder of Balance Nourish Nutrition. She is a Nutritional Therapist with a deepened interest in intuitive/mindful eating. Her area of expertise is digestion and mental health. She believes that health is a 360-approach including healthy eating, emotional well-being, environment, movement and natural body care.

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