How to feast without feeling sluggish afterwards

This is not the time of year to hold back or, god forbid, diet. However – there’s no fun in feeling heavy & sluggish from overeating. This is our guide to making the most of your festive feast without feeling like you ate a whole turkey the next day. 

Prioritise your favourite foods.

Sensible feasting means you have to make some choices, but this doesn’t have to leave you unsatisfied. This is not the time to ‘save the best till last’, treat your festive plate like a buffet and head for the high value things first. 

Let’s say you absolutely love roast potatoes – take a sensible number and dig in to them first. Don’t save them for the end of the meal when you have to stuff them in – this is when people tend to overeat. 

Another way is to have 1 potato, followed by a mouthful of greens, followed by the next potato – this way making sure that you are getting a balance of foods, while still not missing out on your favourites.

“This is not the time to ‘save the best till last’, treat your festive plate like a buffet and head for the high value things first.”

Balance your plate

Both fibre & protein contribute to keeping you full and satiated, so make sure your plate has a balance of these foods.

At a festive meal, this could look like 3 different portions of veggies, 1 portion of potatoes and then one portion of a protein rich food such as turkey or nut roast.

Fibre rich foods include:

– Wholegains (if you make your own stuffing, use brown bread to add fibre)
Legumes (we’re talking beans, chickpeas, lentils – let’s be honest, they’re probably not on your festive plate!)
Fruits with Skins – (try making your own cranberry sauce from frozen berries!)
– Vegetables (this is where you’ll find them on the big day – leafy greens, cabbages, sweet potatoes)

Eating enough protein has been shown to reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin. The trick here is to include a protein source at breakfast and in your snacks throughout the day, so you don’t arrive at the feast feeling starving! If you’re a Champagne for Breakfast sort of person, then try having a plant protein shake too – they’re a great nutritionally balanced snack that will help keep hunger levels stable throughout the day.

High protein foods include: 

– Yoghurts and yoghurt alternatives 
– Nuts & Seeds 
Legumes – beans, chickpeas, lentils 
Protein powders 
Tofu, tempeh, seitan
Animal protein

The trick here is to include a protein source at breakfast and in your snacks throughout the day, so you don’t arrive at the feast feeling starving!”

Veg first

The beauty of deliciously cooked veggies smothered in gravy is that they will fill you up much faster than simple carbs. So one way to feast and not feel sluggish afterwards, is to increase the amount of veggies you eat at meals. This will stop you from overeating as all the fibrous veg punches above it’s weight so you feel full, but not sluggish and once it’s all digested – you will feel light and ready for the next one!

Eat slowly

Let’s go back to those roast potatoes. Really savour them, enjoy the taste and the crunch and take a moment to feel the joy you get from eating them. 

Research shows that people who eat slowly have a lower BMI than those who don’t. 

If you live in a family where everyone inhales their food, it’s a great chance to talk about the things you want to talk about. Try putting your cutlery down and take a break between mouthfuls. 

Try some negative calorie fruit

Research has shown that eating low calories fruit & veg before your meal reduces total calorie consumption – the old myth about Celery having negative calories may actually exist. 

Researchers gave people 50 calories of salad before offering them an all-you-can-eat pasta feast. Those that ate the salad consume 65 fewer calories of pasta. We can use this principle for festive feasts – try having a plantshake just before your lunch – it’s hydrating, nourishing & high fibre and will mean you gorge less!

Snack aware

During the festive season there are many moments when you might be tempted to dig into a mince pie at 11am with a cup of tea. This doesn’t feel like a ‘snack’ so much as a festive ritual, but nutritionally it is a snack. 

Think about aiming for balanced snacks – here we’re talking about balancing protein, fat & fibre so keep blood sugar levels stable. 

A mince pie and a cup of tea is not a balanced snack and is guaranteed to make you feel ravenously hungry an hour or 2 later. A mince pie with a handful of nuts or cream is nutritionally speaking a much better snack, or even better, save the mince pie for after a meal. Choose snacks that will balance your blood sugar – a protein smoothie, a handful or nuts, yoghurt with berries. 

Add fermented foods

One tip we picked up from running a supper club in our kitchen for a few months, was how great adding fermented foods to your plate, makes you feel afterwards. 

Make like the Austrians and add a healthy dose of sauerkraut or fermented red cabbage to your plate to aid your digestion. There’s great fermented red cabbage krauts (that don’t smell farty at all!) available in the supermarkets, that add a delicious crunch tang to a roast. 

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