Christmas is a time for indulgence, over-eating and notoriously, gaining a few kilos. In fact, individuals gain, on average, 0.8kg over Christmas. Here are my top 8 tips to ensure you can enjoy all the fun of the Christmas season without negatively impacting on your health!
1. Don’t be sedentary all day long
While it is easy to sit around eating all day at Christmas time, try and encourage the family to get up and go for a walk, play a game of footy or cricket in the backyard and get active! If you’re on holiday, rather than drive, walk down to the beach or to the shops. If you’re at a caravan park or motel, use their faclities! For example, if they have a tennis court or a gym, make the most of them!
2. Go easy on the alcohol
While a glass here or there isn’t going to harm you, binge drinking around Christmas and new years is a major issue, especially here in Australia! Enjoy a glass of red without going overboard. Red wine actually has some health benefits, as it is full of polyphenols and antioxidants. Try and aim for one drink per Christmas event! Alcohol is packed with calories (more than carbohydrates!), so if you want to maintain your waist line, don’t go too crazy.
3. Engage in mindful eating
It is incredibly easy to over-eat when we’re socialising. In fact, some research shows that our portion sizes are generally larger when we’re eating out and with other people. Most of us are terrible at mindful eating. We’re either eating on the go, are in a rush and don’t take the time to enjoy our food. Try and actively enjoy your Christmas dinner, chew your food for longer and focus on the different aromas, flavours and textures. By doing this, you will actually feel fuller sooner and are less likely to binge eat.
4. Wait 15 minutes before going for seconds
Instead of going crazy at Christmas lunch, try and eat one plate of a normal sized meal and wait 15 minutes before going for seconds. Chances are, you’ll realise you’re actually satisfied and won’t over-eat. This is because the hormone that tells us that we are full, Leptin, takes a little longer to be secreted and registered in our brains, so even if our stomach is full, our brain doesn’t know it straight away.
5. Eat more fruit
Whilst there is always an array of desserts at Christmas time, there is often also a fruit platter. Fill your plate and your stomach with fruit, rather than with sugary sweets.
6. Do something for others
Christmas is a time of self-indulgent consumerism, but it doesn’t have to be like this! Think about how you can help others this festive system. Cook a meal for a family in need, invite a friend over who doesn’t have family at Christmas time, help out at a local event. Giving and being generous is good for your mind and soul.
7. Opt for sparkling water, not coke!
Coke and soft drinks fly off the shelves at Christmas time, but they’re probably the worst thing for your body. Consumption of refined sugar is linked to hundreds of diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Opt for sparkling water, maybe add some lemon or mint to make things interesting! But stay away from soft drinks as much as you possibly can!
8. Intermittent fast
Click here to read my blog about all the benefits of intermittent fasting! Among other things, it promotes weight loss, reducing inflammation and is very beneficial for your gut microbiome. During the Christmas season, it’s more important than ever to intermittent fast. If you have two festive functions in a day, intermittent fast in the morning to avoid over-eating that day. If an event is over-indulgent, try and get a 16 hour fast in post-event to allow your digestive system to rest.
Have a happy, healthy Christmas! X