Have yourself a healthy Christmas

Is it really possible?

Even for the most conscientious healthy eaters among us, staying on the healthy band waggon over Christmas is the ultimate challenge. More than ever, since the pandemic hit, it seems ‘Christmas’ can extend anywhere from mid-November to well into January - plenty long enough to send your healthy habits well and truly off-the-rails. As the Christmas party season comes back with a bang for 2021, we look at how to hold on to the healthy habits and enjoy the celebrations.

porridge

Get off to a good start

Try and make breakfast a sacred space, make this the one meal of the day you commit to being healthy, and whatever you do, don’t skip it! Getting a head start on the day with a healthy breakfast will help you feel nourished and satisfied until lunchtime and encourage you to make healthier choices throughout the rest of the day. A healthy breakfast doesn’t need to be boring; eggs are a great source of protein - try a pouched or boiled egg on wholemeal toast. Porridge is also a nutritious and warming way to start the day, for bonus points add a dollop of natural yoghurt and top with fresh fruit.

hydrated

Stay hydrated

It’s easy in the cooler temperatures to forget to drink enough water but avoiding dehydration can be a game-changer in silly season. Dehydration is easily confused with hunger and can fuel an unnecessary festive snacking spree. Experts recommend around eight glasses of water a day, which can include some hot drinks to keep you hydrated and feeling warm and full, like tea, or even just hot water with lemon. Check out our Healthy and Hydrated blog post for more on the subject.

xmas party

Navigating parties

Top tip: don’t arrive hungry. Before you go to a party, take the edge off your hunger with a homemade and nutritious snack. You’ll be impressed by how much it improves your resolve to resist reaching for the canapes for the umpteenth time. Try and incorporate some protein into your snack which slows stomach emptying and makes you feel more satisfied for longer. Perhaps a plain yoghurt with some mixed berries, a potassium-rich banana or apple slices with peanut butter. If you’re on the move straight from the office, a handful of walnuts could do the trick.

buffet

Mindful buffet choices

Buffets are a firm festive favourite and a disaster zone for diets. Aim for the salad and vegetables first and try to fill half your plate. Following that, head for protein-based choices; chicken, eggs and salmon are all good choices. If you’re a big fan of dips, try and gravitate to the cucumber and carrot sticks rather than the cheese straws! Try and take a plate, rather than continuous grazing so you know what you’re eating and your brain is provided with a cue to take a breather.

champagne

Avoid the hangover

Not only does mid-week Christmas party drinking add a load of extra calories, it can also ruin your habits the entire following day. Make sure you stay really well hydrated and try and drink water in-between any festive alcoholic beverages. Line your stomach before you begin drinking.

Winter run

Incorporate movement

With the short days and the numerous events to squeeze in over Christmas, it can be difficult to get the movement and exercise in. It's very easy to find it's 4pm and dark again and you have barely left the sofa, let alone the house. Keeping up with your movement goals over the festive period can make all the difference between feeling good come New Year and being totally off track. Make firm plans early on for how you will incorporate exercise it into your day, it makes you much more likely to follow through. (More on sticking to habits here.) Be specific about your plans and involve others to help keep you accountable. If you’re trying to catch up with lots of friends and family, perhaps arrange for a festive walk, instead of heading for coffee.

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