As we move through the final weeks of the year, many of us are tired and very much looking forward to having some downtime over the Christmas. However, we still have a few weeks to go, and this time can often be the most stressful with present lists, parties, family events and school plays to get through just to mention a few!
When we add the mental load of what we should be eating and doing, it can all just be too much! We are just left with the guilt of what we are not doing! Rather than let the guilt occupy headspace, here are some suggestions to consider in helping nourish and sustain you through this time.
We can only do what we can, some days will be better than others…and sometimes
it’s acceptance that that is ok too!
1. Try to start the day with a breakfast.
Research tells us that when we have a breakfast, we are more likely to eat well for the rest of the day.
- By having a breakfast, it provides the opportunity to replenish energy and increase our nutrient intake (fibre, protein and vitamins and minerals)
- It has been shown to help appetite regulation having a positive impact on our consumption through the day.
- It supports us overall in adhering to a healthier diet (1)
Striving for a higher fibre cereal/bread and a source of protein (milk, yoghurt, nuts/seeds, eggs, beans) can be great options.
2. Set yourself up for Success!
One of the key challenges to making sure we eat well is having the healthy option available,
especially when we are pressed for time!
- Often taking time to plan your meals for the week ahead, even just planning your dinners. Then making a shopping list and buying all that you need for those meals. That way you will have options available for when you need them.
- Batch or bulk cooking can be very useful too, especially for those days that you know you will be pressed for time. E.g. make a batch of overnight oats for breakfast/snacks, double the curry, chilli or soups you make at the weekend, for those busy days during the week.
- Buy health snack options (fruit, nuts/seeds, yoghurts, high fibre crackers) so you have them on hand for when needed.
Having an option that will nourish you and help keep energy levels up, is a great investment of time at the weekend, for the busy week ahead.
3. Get moving when you can!
While we may not be able to achieve the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of moderate intensity physical activity of 150-300 mins per week, it is important that we get our body moving when we can (2). The benefit of physical activity is well known to your physical and indeed mental health. Why not try to get a walk or run in at lunch and get some daylight too! Maybe go for a walk while the kids are training or other activities.
Research shows that even small incremental movements or light-intensity activity is preferable to sitting still and can still be beneficial (3).
Even small bursts of exercise for 2-5 mins, some ideas are:
- Run up 2 or more flights of stairs.
- Add short sprints to your normal walk from the carpark to the shop or the office, to the bus, walking the dog or in the park.
- Do a few Jumping Jacks or jog in place, when you need a break from sitting at your desk.
4. Minimise negative self- talk.
We often spend time berating ourselves on what we should be eating and this can be an added stress at an already stressful time. Negative self-talk will not make us do better, so taking a kinder approach to ourselves is a better option. Having more self-compassion can be a useful tool, especially in helping address emotionally driven behaviours (4).
It’s worth noting, that often the words we say to ourselves, have the same impact as if they came from someone else. We know most of us would never speak to a friend like that, so maybe we need to try and take the same approach when talking to ourselves.
Being more gentle, kind and compassionate to yourselves in the same way we treat others!
- Uzhova, I. et al. (2018) ‘Regularity of breakfast consumption and diet: Insights from National Adult Nutrition Survey’, Nutrients, 10(11), p. 1578. doi:10.3390/nu10111578.
- Physical activity (2022) World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity.
- Powell, K.E., Paluch, A.E. and Blair, S.N. (2011) ‘Physical activity for health: What kind? how much? how intense? on top of what?’, Annual Review of Public Health, 32(1), pp. 349–365. doi:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031210-101151.
- Turk, F. and Waller, G. (2020) ‘Is self-compassion relevant to the pathology and treatment of eating and body image concerns? A systematic review and meta-analysis’, Clinical Psychology Review, 79, p. 101856. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2020.101856.