Ah, Christmas. Sprigs of mistletoe on doors, reindeer jumpers everywhere, piles of tinsel and…countless opportunities to overindulge. We’re all for special meals with loved ones, family customs and celebrations, but no one wants to emerge groggy-eyed in January with a food coma, feeling either uncomfortable or unhealthy. There’s also a tendency to be less active in the holidays when actually, you have more time to get out there and get those endorphins pumping.
Fortunately there are ways you can indulge and still feel good about yourself. Here are our top tips on keeping healthy over the festive season:
- Don’t skip breakfast. While it may be tempting to forego the most pedestrian of meals in preparation for a large exciting lunch coming later that day, all that means is that you’ll over indulge or give into cravings later on. Spice up your porridge with some cinnamon or festive berries or make a healthy smoothie, and then you won’t be tempted to go overboard later.
- Focus on the FUN, not just the FOOD. There are loads of festive activities that don’t include eating or drinking so make sure you get involved with these too. From singing at carol concerts to collecting pine cones, to decorating the tree – schedule in some fun holiday-related activities to keep yourself busy.
- Help someone less fortunate than you. Bake mince pies and take them around to your elderly neighbour, volunteer at Christmas parties in children’s hospitals or simply donate gifts to those who need them. Or, you could do a “reverse advent calendar”, where every day you add a food or hygiene item to a box – and then at the end of the month you deliver it to a shelter. Besides making the world a better place, helping others and showing kindness has proven to improve your overall health and mood as well.
- Go for a walk. While lying on the couch is tempting after a large meal, walking off your Christmas lunch has many health benefits. Gather the family and stroll along the beachfront, in the park or simply around your neighbourhood.
- Be mindful. There are so many opportunities to eat over the festive season but before you pop that cheese straw into your mouth, think about whether you really want it or are just eating it because it’s there.
- Drink lots of water. When you’re grabbing that cold beer or glass of bubbles, make sure you get a glass of water with it too. Spice up your hydration by adding fruit, mint or lemon to your water and pour it into a pretty jug that is always accessible for the whole family.
- Love is healthy – give someone a hug. Take this opportunity when you’re around loved ones in the holidays to show physical affection. A simple morning hug can lower your blood pressure and lower stress hormones – plus make yourself and others feel needed and loved.
- Get your sleep. So many parties, so little time – but limit your late nights to a few specially chosen evenings (like New Year’s Eve for example). Lack of sleep only makes our immune systems suffer and also means we won’t have much energy to be active. Say no to some invitations (you don’t have to attend everything!), take a midday nap if necessary and schedule in a few early nights where you get eight hours of sleep or more.
- Prepare for parties. If you’re heading to a cocktail party, chances are that you’ll be faced with trays of canapés and trays of drinks on arrival. Have a small snack before you head there like yoghurt with fruit, so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach or arriving ravenous.
- Ask for health related gifts! We’re all for asking for what we want these days – so instead of being gifted trays of chocolates, ask for some new exercise gear, a personal training session or two or a fitness or health magazine subscription. That way you’ll start your new year just right!
Above all, have fun and enjoy this festive time with family and friends as you appreciate your life and all the special people in it.