For me Christmas is all about having fun and spending quality time with my family. But sometimes it’s hard to strike a balance between over indulging but feeling sluggish and guilty or abstaining from unhealthy food but missing out on the enjoyment and traditions that come with them.
So how can you strike a balance and achieve health and wellbeing?
1.Remember that health is a lifestyle
One mince pie isn’t going to have a horrible effect on your body and it can do wonders for your wellbeing, if you enjoy it mindfully. When it can become a problem is when you a) start a downward spiral of unhealthy eating or b) obsess over the fact you’ve eaten something ‘bad’. We are often tempted by unhealthy food, so before you eat it (or reach for another) ask yourself if you really want it. If you do, eat it, enjoy it, and move on. If you don’t then give it a miss.
2. Eat your fruit and veggies
That’s right. Carrots aren’t just for Rudolph.
It’s easy to forget to fill up on the good stuff when you’re surrounded by so many less healthy options. Fruit and vegetables contain important nutrients and antioxidants, which can help your body repair the damage caused by too much sugar or alcohol and too many late nights!
If you really must eat a mince pie for brekkie, why not have a banana or a nice green smoothie as well. Fruit and veg are full of fibre, which can help to stabilize blood sugar and help you avoid a sugar-crash mid-morning that leaves you reaching for the nearest box of chocs.
Likewise, if you’re having the full-works Christmas dinner pile your plate high with veggies (or ask the host to). This will mean that your dinner is healthy and filling and you’re less likely to reach for a second, third or fouth roast potato or Yorkshire pudding!
3. Drink Up
Staying hydrated is so important. Sometimes we can mistake thirst for hunger, which means we are likely to over eat and since there are usually so many unhealthy snacks around its likely we’d reach for one of those! I always carry a water bottle with me when I go out Christmas shopping to make sure I drink enough.
4. Avoid mindless eating
At this time of the year there is abundance sharing-size bags of crisps and boxes of chocolates. How many times have you sat in front of the TV with your favourite snack and before you know it the whole lots is gone? Avoid mindless eating by getting yourself a portion of the snack and putting the rest away. If you really want more you’ll have to go to the effort of retrieving it from the cupboard!
5. Learn to share
Sharing foods is a great idea. If I want something unhealthy like a chocolate bar or dessert I will try and split it with someone else. Often we’re not hungry and just want the taste of the food. By sharing you can still experience the pleasure from the food, enjoyment of sharing, and have saved yourself some calories and negative health effects.
6. Get moving
Exercise is important for our physical and mental wellbeing. However, when it’s cold outside I love nothing more than snuggling in front of the TV with a blanket or taking a hot bath. But don’t forget to keep moving. Here are some ideas:
- Christmas shopping– trailing round the shops definitely counts as cardio!
- Sledging or snowball fights (weather permitting)
- 30 minute home work out e.g. Blogilates snowbunny blast
- A gentle walk to aid digestion after a big meal.
- Yoga r- especially if you’re feeling stressed.
7. Be prepared
During Christmas it’s likely that the number of unhealthy options will out-weight the healthier ones. That’s why it’s important to take control and be prepared.
If you’re eating out you can look at the menu in advance and decide what to get- that way you won’t waste time deciding at the restaurant and be tempted by other dishes available.
If you’re going to a friend’s house ask them if they’d like you to take some snacks (e.g. veggie sticks and guacamole/ hummus) or help prepare the food.
8. Get cooking
The internet is full of healthy alternatives to traditionally sugary, fatty and calorie laden treats. For example, my gluten-free vegan gingerbread men or Christmas pudding energy balls Get cooking and make something yummy to share with your friends and family.
What do you plan to do to stay healthy and psyched this Christmas?