From scheduling some time out to mindful eating, here's how to feel better this festive season
We all love the Christmas season– but it’s not the kindest on our bodies. The combination of more parties, alcohol and mince pies, plus less sleep, water and vegetables, often leaves us feeling lethargic and bloated. It’s the yearly conundrum: how can we enjoy the festive period and all its fun without feeling permanently lacklustre?
Here are my 8 top tips for a healthy Christmas.
Enjoy Healthy Luxuries
We tend to assume that treat foods are unhealthy, but there are some delicious healthy foods to enjoy this festive season. Luxurious seafood platters. Homemade dark chocolate bark made with 80 percent chocolate. Organic or wild smoked salmon with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Nuts cracked by a fire. All of these festive treats are nutrient dense, so tuck in.
Avoid mindlessly grazing your way through several spoonfuls of added sugar as you hand around that box of chocolates while watching festive films. Instead, ensure you’re focused fully on your food when you eat. Keep an eye on your portion sizes, eating slowly and chew thoroughly. Savour each mouthful and recognise when you are starting to feel full.
Schedule Restorative Time
Christmas may be positioned as a time for fun and celebration, but it can bring challenges for many. If this is the case for you, ensure you take restorative time out for yourself when you can. This might mean going for a walk in the countryside or a park, meditating, or simply sitting quietly with a book or magazine. When we don’t do this we can quickly become depleted and end up turning to the mince pies for comfort.
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
When kitchen countertops become a home for stollen and leftovers, it can be easy to end up mindlessly picking at them every time you walk into the room. Consider keeping food packed away in cupboards or the fridge. If there are always treats in your eye line, it’s a whole lot easier to be tempted and end up mindlessly picking. Store treats away and only get them out when you make the conscious decision that you want to enjoy them. When you’re finished, put them straight back in the cupboard.
Make Secret Healthy Swaps
Simple tweaks can make festive food and drinks healthier, without compromising their flavour. Choose healthy fats like olive oil to cook with. Make low sugar versions of classics, such as mulled wine sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar. Xylitol is a great substitute for sugar and works well in recipes like cranberry sauce too. No strange after taste means no one will notice the difference. There are lots of ways we can make traditional dishes healthier when we think about it.
Maintaining your usual exercise regime can help prevent all of your healthy habits from going out of the window. If you can, exercise first thing in the morning before you have the chance to talk yourself out of it. On the upside there’s a good chance the gym will be empty! If you aren’t a gym person, take some long walks in the countryside with friends or family. Or try a workout video on YouTube – you don’t even have to leave the comfort of home. Keeping your body moving can help prevent that groggy, sluggish feeling from creeping in.
Get Your Sleep
When we don’t get enough good quality sleep, our body produces more of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and less of the satiety hormone leptin. Feeling more hungry and less satisfied by the food we do eat is a recipe for overeating at the best of times. Throw that tub of Celebrations into the mix and it’s a recipe for overindulgence. Aim to keep to your usual bedtime as much as possible. If you do have a late night, make time for a lie in, or take a nap, to catch up on sleep. This will help avoid overeating due to tiredness.
Make A Plan For Jan - Join THE JAN PLAN (8th Jan)
Set a date for when the celebrations end and life returns to normal. This helps prevent any Christmas habits creeping into daily life.
If you’re looking to lose weight and/or optimise your health, there has never been a better time. Don’t be tempted by faddy detoxes or crash diets that provide no long-term benefit and could even have a negative impact on your health.
If you feel as though you could benefit from professional guidance and a comprehensive approach that will help you establish healthy habits that stick long term, consider working with a nutritionist.