Well it’s that time of year again, the festive season, which so often ends up being the overindulging season! Full of Christmas cheer, parties, nights out, drinks, treats, endless opportunities to fall into unhealthy habits. We all love Christmas, but not so much its aftermath, feeling lethargic and bloated when January comes, with a noticeable new tightness in the waistband!! Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the fun and enjoyment, treating ourselves while staying healthy and feeling your best!!
So here are our top tips for staying healthy this Christmas:
The best way to succeed at anything is to be organised and plan ahead. The same goes for the festive season. A little bit of forward planning can go a long way in keeping healthy habits going through the holidays. Think ahead of your menus for various days, ones you have planned or ones that may potentially happen, like people popping in for a drink & finger food or maybe a cuppa and a treat. Buy in all the ingredients you might need for different scenarios, it’s great to have food on hand that you are happy to be eating, and can keep you from tucking into something you know you shouldn’t.
Where possible make snacks and treats & snacks ahead of time and gather some ideas for quick and easy to prepare healthy options to keep yourself away from the traditional box of Roses. Make some dishes ahead of time and even have things frozen ready to defrost. Things like cookie dough are great to keep in the freezer. Or having dried fruit and nuts in the cupboard. Or dark chocolate is so handy to simply melt & have with fruit.
Drink lots of water is a good rule to stick by over the holidays. With parties going on, nights out, catch ups there always seems to be the opportunity to have a tipple or two. Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking lots of water. If you are having a few drinks, match each drink with a glass of water, or using sparkling water as a mixer is another good trick. And drinking lemon water is going to be great to help the body detox too. Or a little apple cider vinegar in water is great too for your digestion & antioxidant too.
Try to stick to your routine as much as possible, of course enjoy your nights out, but still try to follow on with your usual healthy eating and exercise regime. Again, plan ahead… If you’re heading out for the night and know you will probably be tired the following day, get your exercise in before you head out and allow yourself a day off the next day, or do something less strenuous like a nice walk. And maybe even do some meal prep for the following day, so you’ll have stuff ready at hand when you’re hungry, a great way to help you stick to your routine.
If you do have a night out or a blip in your healthy eating, don’t beat yourself up about it or let yourself get derailed completely from your routine. The funny thing with hangovers & tiredness is the very thing you feel like eating actually just makes you feel worse. The best thing you can do is try to override your brain. So while your body is craving salty sugary foods the next day, reach for a green juice or fruit salad, you might not feel like it initially, but it will be the best thing for you and after eating something good like that you will start feeling better a lot faster. Lots of water and good clean food is the best thing to cleanse the system and ease your hangover!
Usually carbs is the order of the day when we are feeling tired or hungover, but the best way to keep hunger at bay is to eat protein at every meal. A good mix of protein and low GI carbs may not be what you are drawn to, but it is going to be the best mix to get you feeling back to yourself as much as possible.
Don’t deny yourself, it is the season to be jolly after all! Allow yourself your treats here and there. You could throw together some of your own. Dark chocolate, fruit, nuts, seeds, oats, nut butters are all great options for making some lovely treats that won’t send you too far wrong 🙂 Having a stash of healthy treats at the ready will stop you being tempted by processed sugar laden shop bought alternatives. Even just have a few ideas for treats that can be thrown together easily in a couple of minutes.
With time off over the holidays, and all these extra nights, try to catch up on some much needed rest. Take the chance to get an early night or a lie in where possible! Being tired plays havoc with our appetite and diet and can lead to us reaching for things we might not normal eat.
Also, while out of your normal busy routine, try to take your time when eating and maybe employ some mindful eating. Taking the time to prepare a meal, sitting down relaxing, focus on what you are eating, enjoy the tastes and the flavours and chewing your food well. Your digestion will thank you!
When eating out there simple things you can do like avoiding the bread basket, and watching portion size, maybe opt for a starter over a main, or simply have one or two courses rather than all three. Most restaurants now have a good range to accommodate people with different eating requirements, and are usually very open to people requesting different things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the menu, enquire where the food has come from, how it is cooked. And gluten free options are now widely available when eating out, and they are not just for coeliacs, if you feel wheat and gluten leave you feeling very bloated or tired, why not opt for the gluten free option while it is available, you may just feel a lot better at the end of the meal. When eating out choose from fish, meat, veg, salad, fill up on plenty of veg, opt for lighter desserts including fruit.
If you are entertaining guests, have fun playing around with creating some original light finger food. Canapes are great for people to be picking away at through the evening. These can easily be made free from sugar & processed foods and can be prepared in no time. Veg & fruit are a great base for these.
And for kids, rather than the traditional sugar laden selection box, why not have some fun with food. Some festive food art can be great fun, or even making some homemade treats as gifts is another great option, and a good activity to keep them occupied while off school.
So a very happy and healthy Christmas to you all. Enjoy!!