Christmas is a time for us to enjoy ourselves. And especially after the challenging year 2020 has been. However, for many of us focusing on healthy habits, the Christmas period can be really stressful. From the sweets and baked goods, mulled wine and the constant eating as we move from one family meal to the next, it’s easy to consume a lot more than our bodies need. This often leads to feelings of stress and guilt, especially after we’ve been working hard on losing weight and maintaining our healthy eating habits. For some of us, it may become so stressful that we completely abandon our healthy lifestyle and spiral out of control.
It doesn’t have to be this hard. With some simple strategies you can enjoy the Christmas celebrations, guilt free.
1 Include some healthy alternatives
Just because its Christmas, it doesn’t mean you can’t make healthy food choices. Yes, there’s some delicious things we should all enjoy over the holidays, but not all the food and drinks we consume need to be high in calories. Instead, think of balance and healthier options. Get creative! If you’re cooking at home, which ingredients can you swap for healthier alternatives? If you’re eating out, how about opting for a lighter salad or broth-based soup as starter? If you’re visiting family or friends, can you prepare and bring some healthy options along with you?
If you’re tempted by the sweets around you, place them out of sight. If you’ve received sweet treats that you know you don’t need to have, is there someone near you that you could gift these to?
By creating a healthier environment around you, it’ll be easier to make better choices around the festive days.
2 Moderation is the new sexy.
While many of us may associate Christmas celebrations with having a full belly for days on end, how does this actually make us feel? How easy is it to continue eating those cookies until you suddenly realise you’ve finished the whole box?
Studies show that both men and women underestimate the calorie value of each meal by up to 1000 calories. Without really being in control of what we are consuming, we will often think we’re eating less. You can prevent this by being more aware of what you’re eating. Forget extremes, let’s make moderation sexy.
How do you practice moderation?
- Listen to your body’s signals and stop eating the moment you feel full.
- Try and plan your meals ahead, if possible. If you know you’ll be having a big lunch, opt for a lighter choice for breakfast and dinner. If you choose to enjoy a few drinks, make an active decision to stop at a certain amount: “Today I’ll really enjoy 3 glasses of bubbly. That will be enough”.
- Saying no to friends and family and friends when you know you’ve had enough.
It’s easy to fall to peer pressure, and to say yes to your loved ones when they’re offering another serving of your favourite dessert. But by saying no when you’re full, you’ll not only feel better tomorrow, but you might even inspire those around you to practice moderation too.
3 Keep Active
Did you know that people feel hungrier and head to the snacks, the less they move around? Throughout this holiday season, try for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If could be a brisk walk outside, a stretching session or even a dance around the house to your favourite Christmas carols.
If you can, make your plan the day ahead and treat it with just as much importance as a commitment you’ve made with your family and friends.
By keeping active, you’ll not only burn off some of those festive calories, you’ll feel less tired and more in control of how you enjoy the festive days.
4 One poor decision doesn’t mean a complete failure.
We all know those days where we’ve made one bad food choice and decide that we’ve “failed” – writing off the whole day or week and letting ourselves abandon all our healthy habits. It doesn’t have to be this extreme. One poor choice, or one day of indulgence does not mean you’ve failed. You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can easily make your next decision a better one. It’s ok if you enjoy a few too many cookies on Christmas eve. You can choose if and how many you eat over the next few days.
5 Remember: It’s just a few days
The best way to not feel so guilty over Christmas? Don’t be so hard on yourself. When you put it in to perspective, a few days of indulgence over the festive season does not mean that you will never achieve your health goals. If you’ve committed to a healthier lifestyle you will achieve your goals with consistency and healthy habits over time. Take the pressure away from yourself and enjoy this special time!
We hope that some of these tips may help help your upcoming Christmas a little less stressful. We wish you a very merry Christmas and a great start to the new year.