Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas, everyone! I believe we can all agree that Christmas season is very much here, officially. And although there’s nothing wrong in eating all of the delicious festive food every once in a while, I know for a fact that those trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis might find it difficult to keep the right balance around holidays. Here are a few ways to minimize the bad effects of a Christmas feast. Which, by the way, isn’t as bad as you might assume! I’ve recently posted about 5 real health benefits of Christmas food – make sure to check it out in case you’ve missed it!
Before you tell me how unrealistic this is – don’t worry, I don’t mean trying to hit the gym in between Christmas dinner and that accidental mid-evening snack in a form of a whole box of mince pies. Being active can take many different forms – anything above the level of sitting at the table all day is a step forward. Maybe go on a short walk before dinner? Join whoever’s in charge of walking the dog that day and have a stroll around the nearest park? Spend a while playing with children during that family reunion? Kids are generally hyperactive, they should be able to keep you away from the sofa for a good amount of time. Even actively helping with dinner can make a small difference. Bringing food to the table, taking dirty dishes back to the kitchen, climbing the counter to take out a set of holiday glassware, hidden on the upper shelf… A few steps here and there will build up into a decent walk throughout the day. And the hosts will probably be happy too, to have a little help.
Snack on fruits
I feel like oranges and tangerines are a symbol of Christmas almost as distinct as gingerbread men cookies. For me, the scent of tangerines in the house means it’s inevitably Christmas season. So I believe there’s a good chance you’ll find some oranges or tangerines on the Christmas table (you can even make sure of that yourself). Don’t let them sit there, only playing the role of decoration! I’m not telling you to replace all of the Christmas cookies and cake with fruits, but throw one or two little tangerines in your menu, between that piece of cake and the 15 cookies. You’ll nourish your body with some vitamins, you’ll fill your stomach (and possibly end up only managing 14 cookies afterwards), and you’ll likely feel better instantly! Eating loads of sweet and fatty food can make you feel bloated and heavy, so having something fresh, juicy and not as sweet can often bring instant relief. Not to mention that oranges and tangerines are simply delicious too!
Check out my recipe for tangerine cookies:
Don’t go crazy with alcohol
Drinking is always an inevitable part of Christmas for adults. And that’s okay. As long as you don’t go overboard with alcohol on a regular basis, having a few festive drinks at Christmas is perfectly fine. Let’s just not forget that alcohol does have some negative impact on our bodies. Try not to go too crazy, too many times. And don’t forget to…
Yes, staying in the topic of drinking, let’s not forget about the mighty water! Alcohol, although liquid, doesn’t help with staying hydrated – which is crucial every day, not just around Christmas. But it’s particularly important when you’re likely to overeat. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before dinner – it will fill your stomach and possibly make you eat a little less, you won’t feel as heavy and bloated, and your body will definitely be grateful for that little love and support during the difficult festive time!
Remember about vegetable sides
Roast dinner – or any other kind of festive dinner, really – is something most of us love and wait for. But let’s spare a second to remind ourselves that behind that baked meat, behind the mash and heavy sauces, there will usually be some vegetable sides. Brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips, peas… whatever it is in your house – give it some love and attention. Make your plate colourful (an eye candy, to make the meal even better) and have a bit of every vegetable side. You’ll give your body some vitamins that way, countering some of the negative effects of other foods.
Don’t stretch Christmas to weeks long
Allowing yourself a great feast followed by a night of drinking is okay during festive season. It all comes down to what we actually define as ‘Christmas season’. Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, maybe one or two evenings out a few days before Christmas? Good. But stretching it to cover the whole week between Christmas and the New Year’s, and also the weeks before and after those… you’ll end up feasting for 3 weeks! And let’s be honest, no amount of oranges and brussel sprouts can counter the effects of 3 weeks of overeating. If staying healthy is your concern, you’ll probably need to carefully plan what counts as Christmas season and what doesn’t. There’s no need to turn down invitations to reunions with friends you only see once a year, and you definitely don’t need to force yourself to spend them over a bowl of salad and a glass of water. Go out and have fun, that’s what Christmas is for. But a whole box of Christmas chocolates eaten 3 weeks before the holiday (‘because it’s technically Christmas already, right…?’) – and repeating it every day until Christmas, only replacing chocolates with pies, pies with cake, cake with cookies etc. – is a teeny tiny bit too much if you plan to survive Christmas season with not much negative impact on your health.
These 6 simple rules to remember should make it a lot easier to survive Christmas season in good health. But above all else – just have fun and enjoy the festive time! 🙂
Do you feel guilty overeating during Christmas? Is it something you regret afterwards? Or do you simply let yourself have a good time without any worries or regrets and get back on track right after the New Year’s, with a brand new set of resolutions? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!
You may also want to read: Gingerbread Spiced Disaster – How To Survive Festive Time.