Registered dietitian and professional nutritionist, author of the book The Bone-Strength Plan, Jo Travers BSc RD MBDA is also known as “The London Nutritionist”. She has come on board the California Prune Board as an ambassador to help us spread the word of the health and nutritional benefits of prunes. With the Festive season almost in full swing, Jo has been dispensing tips on how to avoid the aftermath of overindulgence without compromising on taste.
After the muted Christmas celebrations last year there is a lot of making up to do this year. However, so many of my clients over-indulge in the run-up to Christmas and then the excesses of December are followed by a somewhat miserable January of social and dietary austerity.
Many people say they like a month of eating healthily. I completely agree. In fact, I love it so much that I tend to eat healthily all the time. However, there is a world of difference between my healthy eating and what commonly passes for it in January. Come the New Year, I see people restricting calories, cutting out carbs, “being good” but really none of this is eating well.
Eating well means giving your body all the food groups, regularly throughout the day in the right amount. So, starving yourself in January to make up for eating too much over the festive season isn’t doing anyone any favours. But it’s ok, eating the right amount of food at the right time is easier than you think.
One trick is to never arrive anywhere hungry. It can be tempting to “balance out” a lot of food in the evening by eating nothing all day. This is actually likely to lead to being very hungry all day and then massively overeating in the evening. The best time to eat is when you are slightly peckish. This is when we are best able to make a rational decision about what and how much to eat, yet this point can be easy to miss. Checking in with your body[i] regularly and asking the question, “how do I feel?” can help you spot this peckish stage instead of ending up at ravenous. So, if you are hungry, eat something. It’s your body signalling that you need some nutrients. A study released this autumn[ii]from the British Nutrition Foundation found that having a healthy snack like California Prunes before you go out can help with appetite control, meaning you can remain rational at the buffet table!
If you are a person who can occasionally eat until you are uncomfortably full, then I would like to suggest a different way to indulge this year. By all means, eat all the food and drink all the drink you like, but I’d like to give you another little trick to keep up your sleeve.
Instead of “treating yourself” with food, treat yourself well. That one little word on the end changes the whole perspective of the idea and allows room for genuinely eating things that are good for your overall wellbeing. And this definitely doesn’t mean cutting out yule log and stilton, (both of which are good for the soul), but it means checking in with yourself to make sure you are actually going to feel better after eating them. If you will feel uncomfortably full then you aren’t going to feel better. If you are going to feel nourished – nutritionally or otherwise – then go ahead.
So remember to keep some California Prunes (you can find out what sets them apart from the rest here) handy in your desk or bag in case you need to treat yourself well and not arrive at the party hungry!
If you are the one throwing the party, have a look at the spiced orange & California Prune chocolate mousse recipe (pictured, above). This is a lovely make-ahead dinner party dessert, which feels very indulgent but is actually rather nutritious. It is high in protein and fibre and low in sugar. The orange and cinnamon give it a really festive flavour.
[i] Palascha A, van Kleef E, de Vet E, van Trijp HCM. The effect of a brief mindfulness intervention on perception of bodily signals of satiation and hunger. Appetite. 2021 Sep 1;164:105280. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105280. Epub 2021 Apr 30. PMID: 33940054.
[ii]Harrold, J.A., Sadler, M., Hughes, G.M., Boyland, E.J., Williams, N.J., McGill, R., et al (2021) Experimental studies and randomised controlled trial investigating the impact of traditional dried fruits consumed as snacks on food intake, experience of appetite and bodyweight. Nutrition Bulletin, 00, 1– 17.