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    10 Practical Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holiday Season

     

    Holidays are usually a busy time of the year, with lots of family gatherings, Christmas get-togethers and holiday traditions. Just because your schedule might seem a little more “full” than usual and your routine may be out of whack, it doesn’t mean that you have to kiss your healthy lifestyle goodbye! Sure, being surrounded by yummy holiday sweets and treats for a whole month can make it easy for your healthy habits to slip, but keeping your goals on track during the holidays is doable (with a little flexibility, which is absolute key. Click here to read our latest article on 3 healthy mindset changes to make during the holidays).

    We’ve put together 10 practical tips that will help to keep your healthy habits on track this Christmas season. 

    1. Be prepared. Prep ahead of the holiday season so that your house is filled with yummy wonderful healthy options. If you’re strapped for time, order a box of freezer-friendly Wholesomeness meals to set you up for success before the busy holiday season starts.

    2. Eat before you go. This is a great tip to avoid turning up to a celebration ravenously starving, ready to devour anything in sight. Make a quick smoothie at home beforehand or grab a Wholesomeness snack from your freezer for a nutritious pick-me-up.

    3. Be a great guest. Be a great party guest and bring a plate of something yummy and healthy that you made at home (like a huge salad or a delicious grazing plate with homemade dip and veggie sticks). That way, you’ll know for sure that there will something healthy to eat while you’re there.

    4. Load up on greens. If you see a salad or veggies at your holiday party, go for it. There will be probably be lots of other yummy things that you want to conquer first but eating a salad or veggies first will be best for your digestion and you’ll fill yourself up a little bit before going for everything else!

    5. Avoid fried foods. Skip the high-fat fried foods and go for the lighter options.

    6. Avoid heavy and creamy sauces. Avoid the heavy sauces and opt for the lighter options on offer – it will be better for your digestion and you’ll feel better after the meal too.

    7. Hydrate properly. Opt for a drink of water first, to support your digestion and prevent the dreaded “post-Christmas dinner” headache.

    8. Chew your food slowly and carefully. Use your senses to enjoy your food (taste, smell, touch, sight). Break your food down slowly with your teeth. When we eat fast there’s no time for our stomach to signal our brain that we are full, so try to pace yourself, chew your food and give enough time for your body to send you those hunger/fullness signals.

    9. Add a side of berries to your plate. Adding a cup of antioxidant-rich berries (e.g. strawberries or blueberries) to your meal helps to maintain a healthy oxidative balance, which helps counteract the negative effects of an unhealthy meal (check out our article on this here).

    10. Create your own gym wherever you are. This is especially relevant during the current Covid times, so many of you may already be pros at this! Even just walking up and down your stairs a few more times every day, picking up things/squatting, or dancing to some holiday music can be beneficial!

    How do you stay healthy during the holidays?

    3 Healthy Mindset Shifts to Embrace These Holidays (manage holiday temptations, eliminate food guilt and enjoy the festive season)

     

    For anyone working on health or weight loss goals, the beginning of a new holiday season can sometimes feel a little bit stressful. There’s usually lots of parties and socialising with friends and family, and decadent holiday foods play a huge part in the festivities.

    The thought of the approaching holiday season can sometimes spark fear of overindulging or gaining weight, so we thought it would be beneficial to put together 3 healthy mindset changes that you can make this festive period, so that you can enjoy holiday eating, and have more time for celebration, family and friends.

    One: Be flexible

    Be flexible, aim for improvement, not perfection (especially during the holidays). Striving for perfection with the “all or nothing” mentality with no middle ground or compromise will let you down. Goals and intentions are amazing to set up, but make sure that they’re realistic and achievable. If you have made a plan for yourself for the holidays, make sure that it’s not going to make you feel restricted and deprived. Having realistic goals in place will make you feel more empowered around your food choices and you’ll be less likely to overindulge, compared to if you had set up rigid goals that were unattainable.

    Take home: Create goals that you know you can achieve  

     

    Two: Enjoy what you love (and leave the rest)

    The holidays always involve amazing selections of delicious foods, from appetizers and cocktails to beautiful roasts, cookies and desserts. You know yourself better than anyone, so you know what foods you absolutely love and have been looking forward to all year. When you arrive at your holiday party, ask yourself “what would I enjoy here?” and then fill your plate with those things, and leave the rest. This will help to avoid the mindless “eat everything in the room” mentality, which is often prompted by strict expectations that you may have first put on yourself (not always, but often).

    Take home: Take the time to choose the foods you want to enjoy

     

    Three: Give yourself permission to enjoy

    Holiday foods are known to be super indulgent and yummy, and are usually “special” unhealthy foods that we only eat on celebratory occasions. These foods have the purpose of bringing us pleasure, because they taste amazing and someone we love usually made the food for us. When we are eating food that is meant to bring us pleasure, it’s hard to receive that pleasure if we have feelings of guilt, or we’re checking ourselves out from the eating experience. Being present while eating and using our senses to smell, taste, chew and enjoy the food allows us to really receive the pleasure that the food is giving us. When we make pleasure the priority during eating, it becomes harder to overeat because we’re more in check with ourselves during the eating process (and overeating is also not very pleasurable!).

    Take home: stay present with your food choices throughout the holiday season

    We hope that you found this short list of holiday mindset-change tips helpful. As December creeps up on us remember to keep your health goals in mind, but stay mindful and stay open…maybe even let the holidays guide you a little bit! 

    Supercharge Your Brain Function with these 4 Powerful Plant Foods

     

    We know that our diets play a significant role in our overall health and wellbeing, but did you know that there is also a powerful link that exists between the food we eat and our brain health? 

    Recent research in the last decade has shed light on the incredible benefits of certain foods that are rich in plant phytochemicals on aspects of brain function, for example sharpness, mood, memory and critical thinking.

    Because oxidative stress and low-grade inflammation are major risk factors for cognitive decline, nutrient-dense, brain-supporting plant compounds play an important role in helping to supercharge our brain function and rewire it into high performance mode. Eating a diet rich in nourishing brain foods also helps to eliminate brain fog, protect against brain diseases and balance out neurotransmitters (which influences other parts of our health as well).

    So if you’re looking for a mood-boost, better focus, or a little extra sharpness, try reaching for these snacks instead…

    Blueberries

    Blueberries and other berries like strawberries, raspberries and goji berries are jam-packed with protective antioxidants and flavonoids. A 2010 randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled trial found that when older adults consumed 1 cup of blueberries per day they experienced significant improvements in certain aspects of cognition, for example long-term memory. A few years later, a study found cognitive performance improvements across all measures in children, even just a few hours after consuming a blueberry meal.

    Walnuts

    Walnuts are bursting with ALA, the omega 3 fatty acid and super-antioxidant that works to scavenge free-radicals and repair and protect cell membranes in the brain. A study among college students in 2011 revealed that regular consumption of walnuts had a significant improvement on inference capacity, or critical thinking.

    Grapes

    Grapes are an amazing source of vitamins K and C (important nutrients for tissue health), resveratrol (a powerful anti-inflammatory plant compound) and antioxidants. In fact, the majority of antioxidants in grapes are actually found in the skin and seeds of the grape. Research has found that the consumption of grapes can influence performance across a wide range of tasks, in particular quicker response times.

    Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)

    A small bowl of green veggies may not be the most sought-after snack, but benefits to brain performance could definitely be worth it…According to one recent study, consumers of cruciferous vegetables were found to perform better in several cognitive tests than non-consumers. Cruciferous veggies as well as other dark green leafy vegetables are natural superstars in the nutrition department because they’re literally bursting with healthy nutrients and vitamins. In fact, ½ a cup of kale has 50 times more lutein than an egg (lutein is a naturally occurring carotenoid that has been found to have an incredibly powerful role in neutralizing free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and lowering inflammation). Whenever we get the chance, we pack our meals with some brain-boosting green veggies, making them the perfect work lunch to support your brain for a productive and supercharged work afternoon J

    References:

    Lamport DJ, Lawton CL, Merat N, Jamson H, Myrissa K, Hofman D, Chadwick HK, Quadt F, Wightman JD, Dye L. Concord grape juice, cognitive function, and driving performance: a 12-wk, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover trial in mothers of preteen children. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):775-83. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.114553. Epub 2016 Feb 10. PMID: 26864371.
    Miller MG, Hamilton DA, Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B. Dietary blueberry improves cognition among older adults in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Apr;57(3):1169-1180. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1400-8. Epub 2017 Mar 10. PMID: 28283823.
    Pribis P, Bailey RN, Russell AA, Kilsby MA, Hernandez M, Craig WJ, Grajales T, Shavlik DJ, Sabatè J. Effects of walnut consumption on cognitive performance in young adults. Br J Nutr. 2012 May;107(9):1393-401. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511004302. Epub 2011 Sep 19. PMID: 21923981.
    Whyte AR, Schafer G, Williams CM. Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Sep;55(6):2151-62. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-1029-4. Epub 2015 Oct 5. PMID: 26437830.

    What is the Low FODMAP Diet?

    A very widely discussed topic in the world of grumpy guts is the Low FODMAP diet…but what exactly is the Low FODMAP diet? Read on to find out more about this evidence-based dietary strategy…

    What are FODMAPs?

    FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found naturally in foods and additives. FODMAPs include fructose, fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides, lactose and polyols. They have been linked to a variety of digestive issues common with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) such as gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, stomach pains and altered gut motility.

     The low FODMAP diet for IBS

    The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders has estimated that 10-15% of the world’s population suffers from IBS, with most people being under the age of 50. The condition can have a huge burden on quality of life, with symptoms being unpredictable, often causing unwanted disruptions to personal and professional activities.

    As such the low FODMAP diet was created to help control symptoms of IBS, and it can also be used if you have been diagnosed with FODMAP intolerance. 

    Working with a health professional, the low FODMAP dietary strategy usually involves a four phased response: clinical assessment, dietary assessment, education, followed by the reintroduction phase. The diet starts by restricting high FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks, and ends by slowing re-introducing the high FODMAP foods. The end result is a diet that can be used long-term that is low in the individuals problematic FODMAPs.

    What can you eat on a low FODMAP diet?

    The types of foods that are restricted on a low FODMAP diet depends on the individual and that is why it is important to see a health professional to help you through the process.

    High FODMAP foods include:

    • Garlic
    • Onions
    • Wheat
    • Some fruits – apples, apricots, cherries, figs, mangoes, nectarines, peaches
    • Some vegetables – asparagus, cauliflower, leeks, mushrooms, snow peas
    • Legumes and pulses
    • Nuts: cashews, pistachios
    • Sweeteners
    • Other grains - amaranth, barley and rye
    • Some dairy products – cream cheese, cottage cheese, milk, yoghurt
    • Some beverages – chai tea, chamomile tea, coconut water, rum, desert wine

    Food composition knowledge is key to managing this diet, that’s why we created our low FODMAP meal plan to make it easier to eat low FODMAP (no more meal planning, ingredient research, or cooking!). Our low FODMAP dishes are gentle on the stomach and are cooked with maximum nutrition with the aim of healing and promoting gut health (improved gut health helps to ease digestive symptoms AND helps to support immunity – win win!)

    Some of our absolute favourite low FODMAP dishes include:

    • Roast Lamb with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Lemon & Herb Quinoa and Gravy
    • Roast Chicken with Mash Pumpkin, Green Beans and Savoury Jus
    • Orange Spiced Chicken with Coconut and Carrot Rice
    • Lentil Dahl with Lemon Spiced Rice, Green Beans & Tomato Chutney (also vegan!)

    Clever Ways to Reuse Your Wholesomeness Containers

     

    Did you know that our meal containers are recyclable and reusable? We know that recycling is great, but reusing is even better. Reusing is a great way to repurpose something that otherwise would have just been sent to the recycling bin…simply reusing an item can help reduce energy, prevent pollution, and reduce waste all at the same time.

    So, why not preserve the life of your Wholesomeness containers a little bit longer by finding some creative uses to reuse them around your house…we’ve put together a few different ideas below. We hope this list helps to inspire your own repurposing efforts at home!

    1. Start your own seeds

    Our meal containers could make great seed starting containers. Simply drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage, add some soil and some seedlings (e.g. tomatoes) and watch your mini garden grow.

    2. For the artist inside

    Use your Wholesomeness container lids as paint trays to blend colours, or use the containers to keep colours separate. Simply snap on the lid to keep the paint from drying out.

    3. Kids organisation

    If you have kids, you know that simple food containers are soo handy for keeping things organised, contained and out of arms reach. Use them to store the kiddies craft supplies, board game pieces, or electrical cords and chargers. Plus, they’re stackable, lightweight and portable, making organising a breeze.

    4. Ask your local kindergarten, primary school or arts centre

    If you are still in surplus, ask your local community if they need any donations. There are high chances that they do!

    5. Fridge organisation

    Use your Wholesomeness meal containers to hold and organise bits and bobs in your fridge, for example bunches of herbs, blocks of cheese, or small individually wrapped packaged snacks that you need a place to stash them. You could use them to help you plan food rotations, by labelling day 1 to 4. Stick labels on them and stack them up for that Instagram-worthy, organised fridge look! 

    There are lots of other ways to put our containers to good reuse around the house. We hope these clever repurposing ideas have inspired you, or maybe you have some other ideas we have forgotten about! Be sure to let us know 🙂

     

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma