How can you have a healthy Christmas and not miss out? Christmas is notoriously a time to indulge and be merry, but don’t let this be the green light to overindulge! You can still enjoy all the festivities of the season and get through the Christmas period without too much impact on your healthy eating habits and exercise regimes.
Of course, Christmas is the time to enjoy yourself, so we’ve got a few tips on staying fit and healthy without missing out on the festive fun!
The more activity, the better! Get out for a daily walk – ideally, after lunch or dinner to aid digestion. Enjoy any new outdoor gifts, like bikes, scooters, footballs or Frisbees, or play old-fashioned games for a fun and healthy Christmas.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
‘Tis the season to be jolly’ but jolly is the last thing many of us feel with overspending, cooking, cleaning, and seemingly endless ‘to do’ lists. Try to keep a sense of humour and perspective. Is it really the end of the world if the carrots are overcooked or if the mantelpiece is a bit dusty? Remember, Christmas is just one day out of 365 and it isn’t worth stressing over. Choose peace over perfection.
Kindness is cool
It’s hard to avoid the consumerism that has overtaken Christmas in the western world, but it doesn’t all have to be about giving or receiving gifts. Try to do something kind for others this festive season, whether it’s baking some extra mince pies for an elderly neighbour, or donating gifts to a local charity.
Think before you eat
Christmas is a time of plenty, and with nuts, chocolates, mince pies and cheese straws and it would be rather mean to suggest that you don’t eat any treats over the festive period! But rather than mindlessly popping whatever is in front of you in your mouth, spend a moment thinking about whether you really want it, or are just eating it because it’s there.
If your goal is to stay fit and healthy through the festive season then a few small eating habits could help make all the difference: eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful. It’s easier not to overeat when you’re mindful. Don’t deny yourself anything but allow the proportions of healthy food to be bigger than the unhealthy options.
For a healthy Christmas, make sure you get a good breakfast. Use it as an opportunity to get some fresh fruit and veggies in with a smoothie to make sure you keep vital vitamins and minerals boosted over the festive season. And mix your smoothies up each day so you benefit from the different vitamins and nutrients in different fruit and veg. Try swapping a banana in a smoothie for frozen courgette coins instead – it gives the same creaminess but you benefit from some greens and different phytonutrients. A good helping of berries and probiotic yoghurt will also work wonders. If you’re craving something warm, a healthy omelette packed with vitamin-filled veggies is your best bet.
Take a few days ‘off’
It’s certainly worth trying to have a few days off between Christmas and New Year. By ‘off’, I mean just try to cut back on gluten, caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol while increasing your consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, probiotic rich foods and oily fish. After a few days of indulgence, it’s important to give your digestive system a break, and some support. You’ll feel better for it. Staying hydrated will certainly help too!
Give your liver a breather
Try to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the festive period. If you can manage a few days alcohol-free between Christmas and New Year that would also be a good idea. Include the following to support your liver:
- Green tea is a source of catechins that have been shown to induce the production of detoxification enzymes. The polyphenols in green tea have exceptional antioxidant potential, which may limit the damaging effects of toxins found in alcohol on cells.
- Berries contain anthocyanins which are very potent antioxidants, free-radical scavengers and they help regulate liver function. Eat lots of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, cherries and red grapes.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and horseradish contain glucosinolates. These sulphur-containing compounds are activators of liver detoxification enzymes.
Embrace an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude is a fantastic little mindset makeover tool and something that you can practice throughout the day as you go, so it doesn’t add anything extra to your ever-mounting ‘to do’ list. Just try and slow down just a fraction, just enough to briefly ‘press pause’ and just try and be in the moment of whatever you are experiencing and mentally note down what you are grateful for in that moment. So for example – a child’s laugh. Just be in that moment and mentally note down how grateful you are for that magical laugh. DONE! That’s it. Try and rack up as many of these as you can throughout your day. This micro self-care tool will help you embrace the everyday magic amongst the chaos and whirlwind of Christmas. Magic moments, are all around you if you can just try and tune into them – and if you can you are going to feel more positive, happier, grounded, calm and in control. You will shift your mindset into a positive ‘high vibe’ zone – and you will start to actually subconsciously train your brain to see more positivity all around you and in return this will attract more positivity into your life.
Permission to rest
Christmas can feel like you are always on the go, so give yourself permission to rest and press pause. Time to just ‘be’ is not selfish or a luxury – it’s healthcare, it’s self-preservation. Give yourself just 10 minutes a day to rest and do nothing. Of course, give yourself more time if you have it, but even 10 minutes to just switch out of ‘doing mode’ and into ‘being mode’ has the power to make a big different on how you feel. Take a bath, go for a solo walk, drink a cup of tea in peace, read a book in bed, listen to a great podcast…
And most importantly, have a happy, healthy festive season!
Article by Louise Murray, Live Well With Lou.