7 Ways to Make Healthier Eating Choices this Winter

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7 Expert Ways to Make Healthier Eating Choices this Winter

From proper portions to emotional eating, get clued up on how to help keep your digestion happy

close up of smiling woman sitting at dining table
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Believe it or not, the holidays are coming and, while this year might be as different as it gets – virtual office parties, anyone? – chances are the amount of fun food on offer could still be the same.

Thanks to these handy expert hacks, you can have your ’nog and drink it, too. Cop these tips to help make this December your healthiest yet.

1. Practise the 80/20 rule

Christmas can feel like a free-for-all – a snowball to 1st January, when you wake up feeling worse than a deflated balloon. But it doesn’t have to be this way when you plan your food as though it's a normal routine.

'Try to choose healthy options like lean protein, veggies and whole grains 80% of the time,' advises registered dietitian Allison Filepp* of Spectrum Wellness. 'The other 20% of the time is made for enjoying the holidays! Healthy eating is part of a lifestyle, not a diet, so factoring in quality of life is important as well.'

2. Double down on mindful eating

Mindful eating can help you slow down and listen to what your body is actually asking for. Filepp suggests starting now to get the hang of it for Christmas, when indulgent food will be everywhere you turn.

'This slowing-down process can help you appreciate the food you're having and feel more satisfied with every bite. You'll notice what you really want to eat and portion your plate in a balanced way,' she says.

'Once you've finished your plate, have a full glass of water, wait a few minutes and, if you're still hungry, go for seconds. Just remember, overeating can make digestion more tricky.'

Struggling to tune into your physical hunger? Filepp suggests eating on a schedule – having a small meal or snack every three to four hours, including some kind of protein, carb and healthy fat.

3. Focus on fibre

'Including more fibre from whole foods will help keep your digestion happy,' says Filepp. 'Where possible, look to make more dishes vegetable-centric. This will increase total fibre intake, which can support smoother digestion.'

Some fibre-full holiday ideas:

  • Stuffed peppers with quinoa, brown rice or barley
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds and tahini dressing
  • Baked carrots with a honey-orange glaze

    One important thing to add: if you're experiencing diarrhoea associated with an IBS flare-up then fibre can make some symptoms worse or make digestion more painful. If you fall into this category, try reducing your intake of insoluble fibre, found in wholegrains such as brown rice, and cereals high in bran and stick to soluble fibre such as oats, and some fruits and vegetables. It's important to talk to a dietitian or healthcare professional, as there are different foods that can trigger IBS flare-ups.

    4. Use a helping hand when needed

    Even with your tippest, toppest efforts, the festive season will sometimes just get the best of you and your digestion.

    If you find yourself suffering from a bout of diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome, the first step is to stay hydrated. This will help replace lost fluids and help to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhoea.

    Loperamide, the active ingredient in IMODIUM®, can help treat diarrhoea, too. Available over the counter in pharmacies and supermarkets, it helps to slow down your digestive system and thicken stools. It can even help to relieve diarrhoea within one hour.

    5. Stay hydrated with visual cues

    While fibre will keep you regular, it won't work without good hydration. Aim to stay hydrated throughout the day with water to help your digestive tract stay in peak condish.

    Keeping a glass or bottle topped up with H2O close by acts as a visual reminder to stay on top of hydration needs throughout the day.

    6. Be aware of stress

    It can happen to anyone: an uncomfortable emotion – stress, worry, anxiety, anger – can translate into polishing off half a packet of mince pies. Whereas true hunger is a bodily cue felt physically, emotional eating is unrelated to your body's physical needs; it's more of a reaction to your experiences.

    'Make sure you're practising good self-care around this time of year to limit any added stress and anxiety,' says Filepp. 'If you notice you're feeling stressed before eating, try taking slow, controlled deep breaths. Abdominal breathing can help to soothe and settle the nervous system.'

    7. Support your digestion

    Let's be real, the holiday season can be demanding, not just socially but other types of stress, like dealing with family and work, can take its toll, too.

    It's not uncommon for accumulated stress to affect your digestion and cause issues such as diarrhoea, but there's no need to let that ruin your festive social life. IMODIUM® with loperamide, can help to restore your body’s natural rhythm, providing effective relief from diarrhoea, in just one dose.

    And remember, using a helping hand with your digestion over Christmas doesn't mean you've failed; just that you're doing what you can to improve the experience you're having. Now go celebrate!


    Suffering from diarrhoea? IMODIUM® can stop diarrhoea in just one hour. IMODIUM® Original 2mg Capsules and IMODIUM® Instants contain loperamide hydrochloride for acute diarrhoea (aged 12+) and for medically diagnosed IBS diarrhoea (aged 18+). Always read the label

    *Healthcare professionals quoted in this article do not endorse any health brands

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