I love this time of year! Christmas lights are out and kids are getting excited about Santa! It is the time for joy and being with loved ones.
However, it is also the time for challenges to our health. Christmas is often the time where we let ourselves go and eat whatever we want and forget to take care of ourselves. One too many trips to the Christmas market or to a Christmas party and our balance of healthy living is totally off.
So what are you supposed to do to stay healthy? How are you supposed to not fall into the stress-trap? Is it even possible?
I think it is. Here are some of my favourite tips to stay healthy throughout the holidays!
Too much alcohol and salty food will throw you off completely. Make sure to balance it out and hydrate before and after a night out. You should be drinking around 2 L of liquid every day, but think about increasing a little bit on the days where you know you will be indulging on some Glühwein or other alcoholic beverages. Dehydration can cause headaches and is often mistaken for hunger, so we eat more. Don’t fall into this trap!
When you are drinking, go for lower calorie drinks. I only drink wine on a night out, because it has less calories and I drink less as opposed to when I drink beer (which I must admit my digestion system cannot take anymore). If you are a long-drinks-type, then mix your alcohol with sparling water and lime, this limits the calories and helps keep your blood sugar stable. And remember to drink water in between drinks, it will keep you hydrated and pace your alcohol intake. Keep in mind that Glühwein contains a lot of sugar, so enjoy one, but then go over to something else.
Christmas is no excuse to stop exercising! Even if your regular fitness class pauses throughout the Holidays, you can still go swimming, go for walks, go ice-skating and lots more. No excuses! Why not dance the night away at the Christmas party? It is fun and you burn calories! Win-win! Exercise also boosts your immune system to fight off nasty colds and flu’s! And if you do overeat, then do yourself a favour and stand up and walk around. That will signal your body that your cells need energy and it will ease your digestion and you will feel better.
Get your zzz’s
Make sure you get enough sleep. Stress is almost inevitable during Christmas, but you will be able to handle it much better if you get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is also often mistaken for hunger, so enough zzz’s will help you make better and healthier choices!
Focus on the fun not the food!
Christmas food is mandatory and Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus. Why not focus on some other things instead? How about carolling with your kids or decorating the tree? Or focus on great conversations with loved ones. Some of us only see our families during the Holidays, so why not really get to know them? Find out what your cousins do and what makes them tick. Start listening and being more mindful of the people around you. They may surprise you!
Go for quality over quantity
We all know it is coming; the cookies, the alcohol, the roast and gravy, etc. My advice is to go for quality instead of quantity. Skip the store bought cookies and go for delicious homemade cookies made with love. Go for the treats that are special to you and your family. Think of it as if you are on a budget and you have to make the money last for the whole month. Which treats and foods would you like to spend your money on? Go for the good stuff!
Balance is key
Have you heard of the 80/20 principle? You eat healthy and conscious 80% of the time while leaving space for delicious treats for the remaining 20%. Don’t deprive yourself of your favourite holiday snack, but do it consciously. If you‘ve had salty, greasy food one day, then balance it out and have fresh salads and fruit the next day. Listen to your body and find out what is wants and needs.
Remember – it’s not what you eat between Christmas and New Years, but what you eat between New Years and Christmas.