It's the time of year when everything goes a little crazy. Friends want to catch up before the year runs out; work places want to thank you for your work in 2014; and forever expanding families want to celebrate Christmas at various times through the month.
This is all lovely, but balancing this with full time work until 5pm Christmas Eve and utilising the extended shopping hours for that office Kris Kringle (or Secret Santa) gift, can send you in a spin! Shopping and socialising will often push your healthy routine down on the list of priorities, meaning you may welcome 2015 in less than perfect health and condition
But it doesn’t have to be this way! With a little extra planning and setting your alarm just a touch earlier can make all the difference to your health in the New Year.
Follow my 12 healthy tips for Christmas to help you make the most of the silly season and enjoy this wonderful time of the year.
1. Move regularly - some is better than none
When life takes over, regular movement is often forgotten. This can lead to low energy levels, potential weight gain and that familiar sluggish feeling. If life is getting in the way of your standard movement routine just see how you can fit SOME movement in each day and plan for this. It may not mean your usual 60-minute, high intensity workout but a 20-minute walk or jog before your busy day sets in. Just think about how good you will feel at social gatherings if you have still been moving over the silly season.
2. Keep that routine
You get home from a busy day of work and afternoon of shopping and realise that you have skipped lunch altogether and that handful of chocolate coated almonds did not sustain you at all – you can guess what happens next. No matter what your day brings, take some time out during the day, breathe and assess your hunger. Enjoy your regular meals and snacks as much as you can without having them “on the go.”
3. Enjoy the good quality treats mindfully
It’s not Christmas (or life) without your favourite indulgence foods. Because they will start to appear around you a little more frequently take some time to listen to your body and find out if you really feel like that second serve of Christmas cake. Don’t deprive yourself (as this will leave you wanting more) but trust your body. If you do feel like it, eat it slowly and enjoy instead of gobbling it down with guilt and without savoring the experience. You will find by eating more mindfully your food will taste better and you will naturally eat less.
4. Take a plate
Attending a party where the drinks are flowing and the platters are abundant can be very confronting if you’re putting your health first. But choosing wisely, eating slowing and doing a little prep before you go can help to help balance the potential mindless overindulgences. Offer to bring a plate of food and make sure it is a healthier option to balance some of the more indulgent platters that may be on offer.
5. Be alcohol aware
It’s so common for me to chat to clients who fear the “dreaded carbs” but drink alcohol way too regularly, not knowing how it is affecting their health and weight. This especially occurs during the festive season when we are winding down from a busy year and going to more social events. Now I’m not saying DON’T enjoy your favourite glass of wine or cheers with that lovely bubbly, but just take it easy and plan to have some alcohol free days a week when your social calendar is clear.
6. Focus on quality not quantity
My everyday cooking and nutrition mantra is to keep it simple and focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. This should not be forgotten over the festive season. Preparing everyday and entertaining meals with good quality, seasonal ingredients will mean that your food will taste great and leave you feeling satisfied. My favourite seasonal and festive ingredients include asparagus, butternut pumpkin, mushrooms, tomatoes, strawberries, pineapple, peach, mango, mint, basil, prawns, lemon, olive oil, oysters and fish.
7. Don’t leave feeling stuffed like the turkey
Just like tip number three, eat your meals mindfully. Take full notice of your hunger and fullness cues, slow down and enjoy these special meals with good conversation, good wine and great family and friends.
8. Balance out abundance
If you have a Christmas dinner or function to go to, plan for a healthy, lighter meal that day to balance the potential over indulgence. Be careful of energy-dense pre-dinner nibbles as the kilojoules easily add up and these can really ruin that beautiful dinner that either you or a loved one has prepared. When faced with a spread, take time to see what is on for offer and enjoy what ends up on your plate.
9. Don’t fill your pantry ‘just in case’
Just because Christmas treats such as crackers, Christmas puddings and mince pies are filling the supermarkets shelves, doesn’t mean they have to fill yours. Its tempting to buy these treats ‘just incase’ of a spontaneous social gathering, however you will more than likely just snack on these through December and January, without savouringthem for a special occasion.
10. Don’t forget to sleep
Our sleeping patterns heavily influence the way that we eat and move. Staying up late unnecessarily will lead to poor energy levels, less movement and more convenience food options. Make the most of nights when you have a clear social calendar, switch off from all electrical devises and get some shuteye.
11. Enjoy Christmas Day
The celebration of Christmas day almost always involves shared drinks and a meal (or several) with loved ones. This is one of the reasons why food is an important pleasure to cherish. While being more mindful over the whole festive season is important, Christmas day is the day to relax and just enjoy those good quality foods and drinks with the people that you love most. This one-day will not make any difference to your overall health and waist-line.
12. Make a health goal for 2015
This tip is not about making a New Year’s resolution but making a health-related goal for 2015. Reading this article you may have realised that you want to learn to eat more mindfully or get started with a regular movement routine. On reflection you may have found 2014 was unnecessary stressful, which you want to improve. Whatever it is, write it down and think about what steps you will take in 2015 to help achieve this health related goal.
Last of all I would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, I can’t wait to bring you more foodie facts and delicious food ideas in 2015.