Christmas-overindulgence

A Dry Spell During The Holiday Season: Smart Or Stupid?

Is the true definition of insanity cutting down on alcohol during the Christmas/New Year’s Eve holiday season?

I strongly suspect so, for I’m in my second week of a self-imposed mid-week alcohol ban and it’s making me quite cranky indeed and occupying far too much of my thoughts.

RELATED: How To Calculate The Alchohol Content In Cocktails

While my loved ones overindulge, as is the norm this time of year, I’ve been left staring into my mineral water, willing it to be vodka instead, with a face like a dropped pie.

It ain’t no fun being sober, while everyone around you is tipsy. And I’m a lush from way back – I love me a drink, always have, indeed it’s an occupational hazard of being a journalist.

Y’ know in the old movies, when the journalist character (almost always a man, Lois Lane aside) is wearing an old hat, drinking hard liquor from his hip pocket and chain-smoking as if his life depended on it?

Well, many many journalists still do this even today, if a tamed-down version minus the millinery and cancer sticks. It’s the stress of the job – or something like that – at least, that’s what we tell ourselves and each other.

dry spell, alcohol issues, New Year's Eve

No one is making me cut down on the demon drink – it’s just that, after a very long and loyal relationship with it, I’ve decided we need to break up, if only Sunday-Thursday.

On the other two days of the week, I shall heartily enjoy a few glasses of my beloved red wine with gusto, in a tidy and contained fashion, unlike days of old when I too felt like I was positively swimming in a champagne glass, ala burlesque star Dita Von Teese (pictured below) – OK, not quite.

My reasons for mid-week sobriety – or drinking more in moderation – include: the horror of turning 40 earlier this year and the awful, accompanying realisation I can no longer party like I’m in my 30s; the sobering health impact of excess, such as a few minor health scares this year and the fact that I’m really bloody determined to shed 5kg in order to be my best self.

I also realised – like many mothers, as is completely understandable – I was perhaps overdoing the “I’m-a-stressed-out-mum-of-toddlers-I-need-a-drink-or-two-to-unwind routine.”

And when I – gasp – actually somewhat stupidly answered my GP’s: “How many alcohol units do you consume a week?” question honestly (who does that?!), her raised eyebrow and stern warning about the health impacts of alcohol were enough to see me abstain, and fast.

dry spell, alcohol issues, New Year's Eve

So, instead of using alcohol as a crutch to unwind, I’m now exercising my arse off even more than I did before and I’m giving mindfulness and meditation a red-hot go.

My new Sunday-Thursday alcohol ban is also saving me lots of unwanted calories and so I’ve already lost weight as a result.

What’s more, I feel empowered and strong and quite proud of my dry-spell efforts, even if – yes – I did give in to a glass of Moet at Christmas, as you do.

I’ll never completely give up the demon drink, but I really need to take stock of my drinking so I’m still around to see my children’s children. What’s more, I’ve only really grasped, at 40, the importance of living your best life.

So, for now, it’s learning to temper my short-temper when family and friends around me are still partying like it’s 1999 and striving to love my mineral water, with a twist of lemon.

What do you think? Have you ever cut down on alcohol during the silly season? Any tips?

Main image via dyersoundworks.com; secondary image via www.2gb.com and final image via www.dailymail.co.uk.

January 3, 2015

Raw Food Recipes To Replace Silly Season Sausage Rolls

It ‘tis the season of overindulgence, but if we throw some raw food recipes into the Christmas catering mix, we may well save ourselves (and our thighs) the horror of hiding on the beach in a muumuu.

RELATED: Get Raw For The Christmas Party Season

That’s the message from Brisbane’s Raw Blend, which promotes the importance of eating nutrient-dense, plant-based foods because of the healing benefits, such as boosted energy and nutrition levels and healthy weight maintenance. Now, with the impending healthy-diet disaster zone that is Christmas, Raw Blend has come to the rescue with its healthy party-friendly ideas and recipes, see below.

National sales manager Tommy Nicholas says these amazing recipes will both satisfy cravings and nourish our bodies.

“Nothing tastes better than fresh,” Tommy says. “These recipes are fun and delicious and even a little nutritious thanks to the raw food ingredients.”
For more information, recipes and Raw Blend products, visit www.rawblend.com.au.

Avocado, Olive and Lime Dip

Makes about 750ml

raw food, Raw Blend, clean eating

Equipment

Vitamix or equivalent blender

Ingredients 

2 small avocados (or 1 large)

350g Sicilian olives (pitted)

1 clove garlic (without skin)

1/3 cup macadamia nuts

2 limes (juice only)

small slice chilli

2tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)

Himalayan salt and pepper (to taste)

Method 

Put all the ingredients into blender. Increase the speed to medium. Blend for 30-45 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. Serve. Follow along with Tommy via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW9fM87Z9G8.

Chocolate, Rosemary and Sea Salt Fondue

Makes 2 cups

Serves 4-12

raw food, Raw Blend, clean eating

Equipment

Vitamix or equivalent blender

Ingredients 

125ml spring water

1 cup raw cashews

180g dark chocolate

3-5 sprigs rosemary (without stem)

Pinch of rock salt

Method 

Put all the ingredients into blender (if not using a Vitamix, melt chocolate before adding to blender). Quickly increase the speed to high. Use tamper (if you have one) to really press the ingredients into the blades for 2.5 to three mins or until steaming hot. Serve.

Nut-Free Protein Bites

Makes 15–20

raw food, Raw Blend, clean eating

Equipment

Vitamix or equivalent blender

Ingredients 

2 cups raw sunflower seeds

2 tbsp carob powder

Pinch Himalayan Sea Salt

1 cupmedjool dates, pitted and soaked

3 tbsp oil (coconut oil or olive oil)

2 tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar

3 tsp Lariese Hemp Protein Powder

Shredded coconut for rolling

Method 

Measure out your dates and soak them for about five hours until nice and soft. Place all the ingredients in the order listed above into your blender. Turn your machine to variable speed and pulse on and off three times for about three seconds each time. Turn your machine to high speed and mix the ingredients in a dough mixture. Use your tamper effectively as this is a thick mixture. Turn your machine off and roll the bites into preferred size and then roll in coconut. Set in the fridge for about an hour or eat straight away!

Sweet Summer Pops

raw food, Raw Blend, clean eating

Equipment

Vitamix or equivalent blender

Ingredients 

Watermelon Layer

2 cups watermelon

1 cup strawberries

1 cup coconut milk

2 tsp maple syrup

Makes 3 cups of liquid

Cucumber Layer

2 cups cucumber, peeled

1 cup coconut water

6 mint leaves

3 tsp maple syrup

Makes 2 cups of liquid

Method 

Blend watermelon layer ingredients together. Pour mixture into ice block moulds to half fill them up. Set in freezer. Blend cucumber layer ingredients together. Fill the other half of your ice-block moulds with the mixture and place back into freezer until completely set. Serve icy cold on a hot summer’s day and enjoy!

December 15, 2014

How To Stay Fit And Healthy During The Silly Season

There’s a lot of hype from leading nutritionists and personal trainers alike right now about the extreme importance of eating clean and raw foods all-year round, but how do we mere mortals battle the bulge – and resist temptation – over the festive season?

Husband-and-wife team Scott and Jodie McKay at Jungle Fit Health and Fitness, based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, via www.facebook.com/JungleFitPT, which services clients both locally and nationally, has this advice for SHESAID readers: there’s no shortcuts, you’ve got to eat clean and exercise regularly to stay trim and healthy over the holidays (bugger).

Related: Get Raw For The Christmas Party Season

Jungle Fit Health and Fitness offers personal and group training, massage, health and wellness coaching and nutritional therapies both in person and online. Fuelled by a passion for health and wellness, and each other, the couple is striving to secure clients all over the globe. 

Scott (pictured), who’s the PT side of the business, is Australian Institute of Fitness-qualified and brings a unique style of training to Jungle Fit Health and Fitness, which he also co-owns, having served more than eight years in a combat role in the army.

He says remaining active during the festive season is a must, especially if you overindulge. “Get straight back into exercising now. I highly recommend people don’t put it off for the New Year resolution of: ‘I’ll get back into it next year’ because January 1 turns into February 1.

“Keep active. The weather is so good this time of year, so there are no excuses not to train, even if it’s not at the same intensity as you normally would during that Christmas/NY week. Go for a walk, or play in the park with the kids. It’s all about keeping your motivation going so you don’t lose all the gains you’ve made pre-Christmas.”

4 Easy Exercises To Reduce Stretch Marks

Meanwhile, Jodie is a health and wellness coach and co-owner at Jungle Fit Health and Fitness, having studied nutritional medicine, remedial massage, nutritional therapies and health and wellness coaching. So, what simple steps can we all take to eat clean? It’s all about small, sustainable steps, says Jodie.

“Look at substituting your favourite things for a cleaner version or recipe,” she says. “There is so much online these days, it is super simple. Start looking at the labels of things you are eating, make sure that you look at the first four ingredients in that label – if its sugar, canola oil, wheat etc., that is what the product has most of.

“Stick to the outer areas of the supermarket. Don’t go into the other aisles (except the health foods). Many people go straight for the “bad” aisles and are eating processed food that’s masquerading as real food.”

And as to why eating raw food/clean is important, especially in the lead-up to Christmas, Jodie says a clean, healthy diet is the key to optimal health and nutrition.
“Wholefoods will always make you feel vibrant and energised. A healthy body can ward off sickness and is less susceptible to certain cancers or obesity-related diseases,” she says. “Processed foods and acidic foods make us feel sluggish and miserable while also bringing on more illness.”

fruitsalad
Jodie’s top holiday tip is to eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unprocessed (lean) meats, fish (salmon), non-homogenized dairy, legumes and eggs. “Clean eating with wholefoods does not have to be boring, there are many recipes easily available that you can whip up, such as our Raw Peppermint Slice (see below).

“And you can replicate the Christmas food for healthier clean recipes – you don’t have to go without. For example, with rum balls you can make a healthier clean version.

“And a lot of people eat seafood at Christmas, so make sure that you fill your plate with it. There are also some amazing mango, avocado, prosciutto salad recipes around, which are all clean.

“So, you can still have nibbles and enjoy the Christmas period, while still remaining nutritious and clean!”

Raw Peppermint Slice

fitness, eat raw, eat clean

Ingredients

Base

1 cup of almonds and hazelnuts

1/3 cup of cacao powder

3 tblsps melted coconut oil

1 cup of pitted dates (Medjool, if possible)

Middle layer

1 and 1/2 cups raw cashews, preferably soaked

1/2 cup of desiccated coconut

Pinch of salt (Himalayan, if possible)

1/2 cup of organic maple syrup

5 drops of peppermint oil

Top layer

1/2 cup of melted coconut oil

1/2 cup of cacao powder

1/4 cup of organic maple syrup

Method

  1. To make the base: Add the base ingredients to a food processor and blend until it resembles fine crumbs and sticks together when pressed. Place mixture into a lined slice tin and press down. Place it in the freezer.
  2. To make the peppermint layer: Add cashews and desiccated coconut to a food processor blend until nice and smooth. Add the remaining peppermint layer ingredients to the mixture and blend until creamy. Add to the base and smooth over with a spatula and place into the freezer.
  3. To make the chocolate layer: Melt the coconut oil in saucepan or microwave. Once melted, add the maple syrup. Then add the cacao powder, stirring until well mixed through. Pour the chocolate on top of the peppermint layer. Put back into the freezer.
  4. Yum – it is now ready to slice and eat! Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

fitness, eat raw, eat clean

First recipe image via plantbasedmunchies.wordpress.com and secondary image via livingonpulse.blogspot.com.

November 21, 2014

7 Ways to Minimise Overindulging at Christmas

‘Tis the season to overindulge – and regret it the next day. But does it really have to be that way? Nutritionist and health coach Jan McLeod guides us through the 7 best ways to enjoy your food whilst minimising overindulging this festive season.

1. Don’t over-fill your plate
It’s easy to get excited when you see your favourite dishes, but remember the festive season is much longer than one meal, so you have plenty of time to enjoy.

2. Leave it
If you mistakenly overfill your plate, don’t feel compelled to eat everything. It’s ok to leave something. That’s why the term leftovers was created!

3. Choose a mix of light and heavy dishes
You will not only experience a range of textures, smells and tastes, but you will also help your waistline.

4. Get up early and get active
After eating a big lunch or dinner, the last thing you will feel like doing is being active, so do it before you eat

5. Plan your week
Understand the days you are eating heavier and plan to include meals on the other days that are lighter and will give your digestive system a rest.

6. Practice the words ‘no thank you’
Sometimes we can find ourselves in situations where we feel compelled to say ‘yes’, but saying ‘no’ politely is okay.

7. Seconds? Don’t mind if I do
If you often find yourself going in for seconds, halve your initial portion size. That way, even if you go back for more, hopefully you will still be eating less.

What do you think – do you overindulge at Christmas or do you avoid overeating?

Jan McLeod runs Mad For Health, a personal and business health and nutrition consulting service that provides simple, practical advice on how to eat delicious, nutritious food that enables you to live a long and healthy life.

December 18, 2013