Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself and have a good time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that your family has to give up on your healthy lifestyle.
For a lot of us, Christmas can mean overindulging in everything we know we should avoid the rest of the year; like eating rich and fatty food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, drinking alcohol and eating chocolate every day. It's also a time where we take it easy, enjoy days lounging on the couch watching Christmas films, and cosy days spent inside to avoid the cold.
But even though it can be a nice change of pace to just relax and fill up on festive food, Christmas can still be a time where you don't have to sacrifice your healthy lifestyle. We're not talking about spending hours at the gym, but rather, making a few simple changes to ensure that your family's Christmas is healthy, as well as happy.
1. Get Moving
While we all love lazy days watching series, it's important to fit in some form of exercise to avoid becoming too sedentary during the break. Exercise could be anything from a leisurely stroll or an hour long group workout class.
2. Stick to Your Normal Routine
One way to avoid excessive snacking over the Christmas period is to stick to your normal mealtimes. Having regular meals throughout the day with plenty of fibre and protein reduces your hunger and makes you less likely to snack and overeat. Avoid having snacks lying around, as it makes it more likely that you'll eat them.
3. Indulge in Moderation
You don't have to give up on your favourite Christmas treats to stay healthy - the key is enjoying yourself in moderation. For example, if you love Christmas dinner, have a bit of everything but stick to one serving. If chocolate is your special treat, have one or two, but only after dinner and not an entire box of Celebrations. If you enjoy wine the most, balance it out by having a smaller serving of pudding or alternating glasses of wine with water.
Enjoy a little bit of everything, but don't stuff yourself until you feel uncomfortably full and keep your portion sizes under control. Make sure you balance it out all by eating healthy breakfasts and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
4. Try Healthier Alternatives
There's no question that many traditional Christmas food recipes, handed down by generations, shouldn't be messed with lightly. However, there are plenty of ways you can make your Christmas cooking healthier by substituting certain ingredients with healthier options, such as making eggnog with low fat milk instead of cream and using olive oil for roast potatoes instead of fat. You can also substitute snacks and nibbles like crisps and canapes with vegetables and low-fat dips, or some fresh fruit or unsalted nuts.
5. Limit the Alcohol
One of the biggest sources of unhealthy calories in many people's diets at Christmas time is alcohol. It can be easy to drink more than planned during long leisurely Christmas lunches and dinners, especially if you have a host or a hostess who is constantly topping up your glass.
If you find it hard to say no, keep in mind that the government's recommended guideline for how much alcohol you should drink in a week is 14 units for both men and women, which equals about 6 glasses of wine or six pints of beer. They also recommend spreading them evenly across the week and not drinking it all at once.
6. Limit Stress
For many, avoiding stress during Christmas might be easier said than done. As much you love your family, being responsible for cooking a huge meal for a large number of people or getting the right presents that will make your children happy will always have an element of tension to it. While avoiding stress completely might be too much to ask, it shouldn't have to ruin your enjoyment of the holiday.
If you feel yourself becoming consumed with stress, take a step back and see if there's anything you can do to reduce it. Maybe it means letting someone else oversee cooking dinner one night, or cutting down on the number of presents you buy for everyone. Maybe it means less entertaining and spending more time just with your close family. Do what feels right to reduce the stress for you and your family.