Strategies to enjoy food this Christmas

With just one week until Christmas, we all start to get a little overwhelmed. Parties, shopping,  loose ends to tie up at work, to do lists that cover both sides of an envelope.

Tiredness + stress + hunger = eating a whole bag of macadamia nuts then moving on to the peanut butter jar  (or whatever your vices are). Don’t let overeating ruin your Christmas.

Photo: David Castillo Dominici

Everyone’s up against it a bit this time of year. For my own sanity I decided I needed a few rules to keep things in moderation and make it so I didn’t collapse in a heap by next Sunday. This is what I’ll be doing:

Plan & prepare and cook: With so much going on, map out when you’re going to be where.  From this you’ll be able to see when you’ll need to pack meals to take with you (ie all day shopping adventures), when you’re going to be eating out and when you’re going to just too darn tired to cook. Remember our equation, above! Now you know when you will need feeding, make a whole lot of easy, portable food. For me this is meatloaves, burger patties, veggie sticks and frittatas. Tasty at any time of the day and if you’re feeling a tad more gourmet the veggies sticks can become a starry or salad. Getting this all together shouldn’t take more than 1 hour and a bit. Fire up the barbecue and the oven, grab some garlic, chilli and chopped spring onions and get cooking. This isn’t about being gourmet, but your food needs to be able to compete with Christmas cake. Find the balance, this is an investment in your sanity! Wrap everything individually and freeze most of the protein.

Be naughty and nice:  If you’ve planned, prepared and cooked then you’ll be more nice than naughty. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy time out with friends, family and colleagues. With a plan you’ll know you’ve got plenty of opportunities to enjoy ‘Christmas food’ and plenty of opportunities to enjoy ‘normal food’. Your naughty to nice ratio might be a bit different to other times of the year but knowing you’ve got both in place means that you’re less likely to overdo it.

Don’t overdo it: Excess + excess= excess excess. If you do overdo it at a party or family event, don’t head out for a 2 hour run. This will just add more tiredness, more stress and more hunger to an already bulging equation. Guilt, leads to stress, which leads to… 5 extra chocolate truffles? Instead, commit to  30 minutes outside in the fresh air every day. This will help you de-stress and cope better with the rest of your day. Get out there with friends and family or find that quiet time at either end of your day where you can just be you.

Know your weaknesses: Whether your weakness is chocolate, macadamia nut stuffing, wine, or that family member who brings out your stubborn side; just don’t do it! If it’s going to cause you stress to stop, don’t even get started.

If you want more handy tips on making food fast, easy, healthy and fun or still stuck for a last minute gift, check out Healthy Helpings: fast food for fit physiques. 200 full pages filled with recipes, photographs and tips and techniques to enjoy your food.

About Michelle

Michelle is passionate about showing people how easy it is to prepare food that is healthy and packed full of flavour. She has just completed her first recipe book, Healthy Helpings: fast food for fit physiques. She began sharing her love of food in 2007, when she produced two series of the online cooking show ‘Healthy Helpings TV’, making fast food healthy and healthy food fast. In 2008 she competed in bodybuilding as a novice figure shaping competitor and she remains passionate about physique sports. She was a 2009 Australian Masterchef semi-finalist, and contributes articles to Oxygen Magazine Australia. Michelle lives with her husband on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, where she loves to search out new ingredients and food ideas from local farmers markets, health food shops and ethnic grocers, and take her two dogs on long rambles through the vineyards. Find out more about Michelle's book