As the silly season approaches and many holiday travel plans are in sight, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips on staying healthy over the Christmas season. This is often a time of over indulgence with work Christmas parties and family and friends get-togethers usually involving an abundance of food (and drinks). It’s also a time to connect with family and friends and enjoy life, so there is no reason to feel guilty for relaxing, unwinding and eating treat foods you love.
There are sensible ways of balancing staying health-conscious without feeling like you are missing out on a fun time of year.
- Eat mindfully
If you want to indulge in a meal or treat make sure it is something you absolutely love, not just because ‘tis’ the season’. Take the time to choose food you really want to eat and then actively focusing on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite will naturally help you slow down and stop when you’re full.
- Stay active
Keep up with your usual exercise/training routine as much as possible and even add in an extra quick 10 minute HIIT session a couple of times a week to keep your metabolism firing and body burning those extra calories. If you’re used to going to the gym and can’t make it, do an at home workout instead. Any form of movement and exercise is better than none.
- Eat before and skip the cocktail food
You go to family gatherings, work parties, and other social events to see your friends and loved ones so use these times to socialise and be present rather than indulging in food. Instead, eat a healthy balanced meal beforehand (a serve of protein, complex carbs, fibrous veg and small amount of healthy fat like avocado) that will keep you satiated all night, and go for the socialization not the food.
- Don’t skip meals to indulge later
If you “save up” calories by skipping meals so you can indulge later, you will likely find this backfiring. Low blood sugar from hunger increases cortisol levels, which leads to cravings for fatty, salty, and sugary foods. Instead of fasting, nibble on healthy snacks like raw veggies, nuts, and fruit throughout the day to avoid a full-blown gorge fest where no crumb is left behind.
- Keep hydrated
It’s easy to confuse thirst with hunger, leading to mindless eating. Stay well hydrated by drinking at least 3L of water a day and carry a water bottle with you when you are out and about so you can regularly sip on it. Start each day with a glass of luke-warm water and a squeeze of half a lemon for hydration and detoxification.
- Eat a quality breakfast everyday
Our first meal of the day sets up our hormones and food patterns for the entire day. Keep your blood sugar stable and avoid cravings by starting your day with a healthy well-balanced breakfast that contains protein, complex carbs and good fats. If you have over indulged one night, start the next morning with a frittata or omelet packed with leafy greens and mushrooms. The protein and good fats will help stabilize your blood sugar levels, choline in eggs helps with detoxification, mushrooms contain energizing B vitamins and leafy greens contain folate that help repair cells.
- Get enough sleep
Sleep can disrupt our hormones leptin and ghrelin that signal hunger and fullness. Not getting quality 7-9 hours’ sleep per night may mean your energy levels are down the next day, leading cravings for sugary foods and eating more than you normally would.
Wishing you all a beautiful happy Christmas & holidays season, filled with family, friends and loads of fun!
Photo credit: Jason Grant