This week Bosco Santimano, founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on festive over indulging.

It’s the beginning of the festive season and I would like to focus on the excesses of food and drink that we consume during this time of joy, celebration and bulging waistlines!

It’s a constant struggle for many to resist eating at all times of the day and night as societal pressures pile up and the desire to say no fades away, with each offering of free food and drinks.

So what can we do to minimise our behaviour and appetite during this festive feast of delicious meals? Simple rule! Stop overeating and drinking in the first place as its easier to avoid piling up the pounds than trying to lose them in January. Did you know that a glass of wine can sometimes contain the same amount of calories as a piece of delicious chocolate cake?

Christmas parties already tend to start in the beginning of December with work colleagues, family, friends and acquaintances. This all ends after January 1, a very long time of exposing your body and mind to all sorts of stresses and excesses, leaving you feeling lethargic, overweight, bloated and sometimes depressed.

It is possible to have a good Christmas season without having to pay the price for over indulgence by following a few simple rules.

First rule is stick to your normal eating habits and secondly start the day with a good breakfast as this will stop you snacking before lunch. Eat food cooked by yourself as this will go a long way in minimising any added sugars, chemicals and preservatives that are loaded onto foods and drinks during this festive period.

Make lots of vegetable options including salads and eat them first as they will fill you up and you are less likely to have the greasy, high-fat food stuff like pigs in blankets, etc.

Heartburn or indigestion is a common recurrence during this period as too much alcohol and fatty foods are consumed non-stop for a few days if not weeks! Not eating too much especially in the evenings will help you sleep well at night. Avoid coffee, liqueurs or other stimulants after dinner as this may keep you awake. The other thing to remember is to stop eating just before you feel full and don’t continue eating until you might burst as this will not help you maintain your equilibrium in terms of controlling your appetite.

Go for long walks during this period or keep yourself physically active as this will help with feeling energised and you will be less likely to snack in between meals.

Find things to do that you enjoy rather than meeting people around food during this time.

The You Can Cook website contains hundreds of healthy, delicious and quick recipes that anyone can do with minimal ingredients. They have been designed in a way that you can easily substitute spices and ingredients for alternatives. We have a good selection of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options along with fish and meats.

Merry Christmas!