There’s nothing worse than feeling like you can’t join in with celebrations because you’re trying to get healthy. Here’s how to navigate special occasions without missing out.
It can be a challenge to be around the huge amount of food that’s usually on offer during celebrations, no matter well you’re doing with your healthy habits in everyday life. The tempting food and drink is one thing, but you’re also contending with the excitement of the festivities as well as expectations from others, and it can leave us feeling confused and defeated.
But you can still enjoy yourself at traditional Afro-Caribbean get togethers. Here’s how.
Give food a healthier twist
Traditional recipes can involve a lot of oil, which is high in calories and fat. Try making your favourite foods by baking, grilling or air frying to cut down on oil. Have a practice run if you’re unsure if a different method will work. Some ideas include baking plantains and grilling jerk chicken.
As well as being a lot of fun, dancing is good exercise – and the best part is that it doesn’t feel like exercise at all when you’re surrounded by friends and family and enjoying the music. Learn some dancehall or Afrobeat moves, have a friendly dance competition, or show the kids in the family your style to enjoy yourself while getting active.
Fill up on the good stuff
Afro-Caribbean food is vibrant and full of flavour, and there are plenty of healthier options on offer. Callaloo is rich in vitamins A and C, and packed with iron, and it makes for an ideal side dish. Jollof rice is full of fibre (especially if you try it with brown rice) and you can pack it with colourful vegetables to get you closer to your 5 a day, and a fish stew is a great meal option that is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Keep an eye on your portions
When you’re faced with so many tempting foods, it’s not hard to see why exercising restraint is difficult. Instead of stuffing your face with a bit of everything that’s on offer, pick a few of your favourite foods and remind yourself that the others will be there for you another time.
Don’t overfill your plate, sit down to eat, and go for veggies first to help keep portions in check.
Savour the flavours
At mealtimes, take the time to truly savour what you’re eating. Do this by paying close attention to how each food feels in your mouth, how they smell and what it tastes like when it lingers on your mouth. Doing so will make you feel much more ‘in the moment’ and will slow your eating down.
Plan your approach
If you’re hosting friends and family, you can be in total control of what food is on offer. But all is not lost if you’re attending a celebration hosted by someone else. Ask if you can help prepare any dishes or bring along some to share and make a hearty dish full of colourful vegetables.
If you’re feeling nervous about the event, it’s ok to let people know you’re trying to get healthy and need help to navigate this unknown territory. But try not to let your anxieties get the better of you, as enjoying yourself is still important even when you’re making healthy lifestyle changes.