The Danish art of 'hygge' traditionally revolves around enjoying time at home with friends and family, lighting candles and eating indulgent comfort food. But following the Christmas binge you might be thinking that scoffing Danish pastries just isn't synonymous with trying to lose weight.
But I believe that you can indeed be both healthy and hygge. To prove this, I've worked with registered dietician Nichola Whitehead to create a two-day 'Healthy Hygge' plan. Why not try it yourself over a weekend?
Day 1 - Morning
I started the day with a warming bowl of porridge topped with sliced banana, honey, almonds and spices. This is a fantastic way to start the day, as it provides you with slow-releasing carbohydrate (essential to keep you going through the morning), healthy fats, protein and soluble fibre.
Once I digested my breakfast, I did a leisurely swim before all the crowds arrived. It was a dream beating the rush and getting the pool virtually to myself. Swimming is gentle on joints and a great whole-body workout, and to me it barely feels like exercise gliding through the water.
Day 1 - Afternoon
For lunch I ate a hearty, healthy portion of Glorious Greens soup. Half a pot contains one of your five a day, and packs in broccoli, coconut, mango and spinach for a serious vitamin kick.
Once I finished lunch, it was time to get outside. I chose walking as my afternoon activity, because I love to explore my beautiful city of Brighton in the winter sunshine. Wrap up warm and take in your surroundings, whether you're heading out for a seaside stroll, for a countryside ramble or even to your local park.
Day 1 - Evening
I was very happy with Nichola's suggested dinner of oven-baked salmon topped with Greek yogurt and crushed rye crackers. I served this with roasted sweet potato wedges and tenderstem broccoli. The fatty acids in the salmon are great for the hair, skin and nails, and it only took 30 minutes to prepare.
I opted for a cosy film night as my evening activity - ideal after my active day! Wellbeing isn't just about the body - it's about looking after the mind too. Laughter is great for the soul, so I went for a few old favourite comedies, lit a few candles and settled down under a blanket with my best friend.
Day 2 - Morning
If you're doing this plan over the weekend, you'll be delighted to hear that Sunday morning brings pancakes! Nichola's healthy pancakes are made with two eggs and a mashed banana, and are topped with raspberries and Greek yogurt for more of those valuable slow-release carbs and protein to help you sustain your energy and not fall into the usual Sunday slump.
After my light breakfast, I eased into the day with 15 minutes of soothing yoga. This sort of exercise is invaluable if you spend most of your working week sitting at a desk like me, and it especially helps with my aching back and shoulders.
Day 2 - Afternoon
For lunch why not try jazzing up your healthy soup by adding crackers or oatcakes for a bit of extra fibre and crunch? I love oatcakes, and they complemented this soup really well.
Sunday afternoons are great for trying your hand at a new hobby, so I decided to do a spot of gardening. I find growing my own plants really therapeutic, so I planted a variety of herbs in the hope of having my own little herb garden to look after.
Day 2 - Evening
For the last dinner of the two-day plan, Nichola suggests treating yourself with a healthy 'fakeaway' tortilla pizza. To make this, I spread passata on a wholegrain wrap and sprinkled it with Mediterranean vegetables and mozzarella, and served with a green salad and olive oil dressing. It was delicious!
My Sunday night routine always involves a relaxing bath. Whether it's bath oils, bath foam or just a cocktail of bath bombs, it's my little way of creating an at-home spa experience, especially if I turn off the lights and light a candle or two.
While you can't expect miracles in just two days, making smarter use of my time certainly helped me feel more in control and ready to face the new week. I felt more relaxed and rejuvenated, and eating well and engaging in healthy, productive activities helped lift my mood.
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