How to stay healthy over Christmas and still enjoy it you ask? Everyone loves and adores Christmas, as for many just like me, it really is the most joyous time of the year. However, it is also the time when all of us are more tempted than ever to make the wrong eating choices. Often we just indulge in anything and then we regret our unhealthy holiday eating habits. It feels as if you either go overboard and splurge with all the wrong foods or you refrain from doing so and thus become unable to enjoy Christmas as it turns into a challenge. However, it is possible to stay healthy over Christmas and still enjoy it and here are some of my tips:
- Don't be afraid to say 'no'.
When you are visiting friends or relatives and they invite you to dinner, they might become too pushy in trying to make you taste all of the goodies on the table. Feel free to politely decline eating foods that you don't like or that you know you will regret eating. Don't risk getting sick or feeling regretful just for the sake of politeness.
- Be mindful.
Portion control is crucial when it comes to tackling all the party food and buffets, so make sure you grab a smaller plate and enjoy every single bit like this is your last meal on this planet. Chew slowly, take your time and focus on the flavours. I know you have heard this before but it really helps to be present in the moment when eating. Bite size food approach works the best, you still get to enjoy all the treats without feeling guilty?
- Smart Choices
Always try to have a snack before you get to any parties. This can help with temptations to go crazy with unhealthy party snacks when you arrive. Check out what is on offer and go for protein packed foods eg. chicken, salmon, eggs, roasted nuts, shrimp cocktail, crackers and fruit platters. Fill up on veggies, provided they are not smothered in sauce or butter, they are low in fat and calories.
- Plan ahead.
Don't turn the days before Christmas into a race. Buy gifts several weeks before and make a list with groceries that you will need for the Christmas meals. In this way you won't be sleep deprived, hungry and cranky. Skip the store-bought cookies and mince pies and save some calories by making your own ones. You'd have to walk for 3 – 4 hours to burn off one shop bought sugar laden mince pie!
- Be smart when you cook.
If you are in charge of the Christmas meals, make sure you prepare healthy and nutritious foods. If you are afraid that you might overeat and ruin your diet goals, focus on the dishes that will be appreciated by others.
- Don't skip breakfast.
This might be the only chance of the day to have a balanced meal. So make sure you get a highly nutritious one, which will prevent you from feeling tempted to try everything that might come your way. Bananas, seeds, nuts, yoghurt and porridge are great foods that shouldn't be overlooked.
- Don't get hungry.
Even if you barely have anything in your fridge and you will be spending Christmas at someone else's place, don't go there feeling hungry. This is a sure way to disregard healthy choices and to overeat. Have a healthy snack even if you will soon go to a fancy Christmas dinner.
- Drink responsibly.
Christmas is the time of the year when even people who never drink have some alcohol. Each glass contains empty calories and possibly many artificial flavours, additives and various other unhealthy substances.
Go for vodka, gin or any other white spirit, they have the least calories. Remember to drink at least two litres of water each day. Stay hydrated at all times and alternate alcoholic beverages with water or juice. Also, never be tempted to mix them or to drink on an empty stomach otherwise you will be in for a bad hangover the next morning. There are some amazing alcohol free recipes for punches and cocktails too you know !
- Stay positive.
Staying healthy over Christmas is a matter of common sense too. As long as you control yourself and stay away from most unhealthy foods, you will be just fine and able to enjoy every second of this holiday.
Don't constantly stress out over the importance of eating healthy and refrain from overanalysing all the ingredients in every food as that will take away the joy brought by the pleasant events going on around you.
- Taste a bit of everything you like.
It is always best to have a bite out of all the foods you like than to resist them so much until you get out of control and eat huge portions of each. Still, if you see any comfort unhealthy foods that make you dive deep into emotional eating, stay away from them.
Make sure you try your favourite unhealthy snacks on a full stomach, while you are well-rested and hydrated. The lack of sleep, water and proper meals will automatically lead to overeating.
- If you eat too much, don't try to compensate by starving.
Don't beat yourself up too much if you fell into the temptation of splurging. After all, stressing over this will prevent you from enjoying anything else and you will just be left with regrets this Christmas. Just get back to your regular balanced diet and don't starve yourself in the next days.
- Stay Active
No excuses ! Frosty Christmas mornings are made for brisk walks and a Christmas party dance floor is better than any gym!
Remember Christmas is not all about food, so take the focus off food and drinks and concentrate more on having fun with your loved ones and friends and creating memories that will last forever.
Have a very merry Christmas