If there was just one word that could effectively sum up Christmas, it would probably be ‘indulgence’, or maybe ‘excess’ Ok, that’s 2 words, but you get the idea. During these dark, cold months, we tend to hide away and comfort ourselves & our friends and family by indulging in gifts, nights out and, especially at this festive time of year, rich food. Winter would not be the same without comfort food, hot chocolates with lashings of squirty cream are our favourite, and it is almost impossible to resist the array of mince pies and cheese boards that are laid in front of us at every opportunity.
So how can we have a healthier Christmas without denying ourselves these little pleasures throughout the festive season?
The good news is that we don’t, not really. This isn’t about cutting out those treats altogether, that just takes the fun out of the Christmas period. It’s more about being aware of the choices that are out there, and making those choices in a healthy, conscious way. That way, come January, you won’t be kicking yourself for overdosing on the Quality Streets.
It’s easy to forget about even the most basic of nutritional requirements during the Christmas period, when sometimes the only piece of fruit we see is the satsuma in our stocking. This is a really easy way to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the festive season and all you need to do is be aware of how much fruit and veg you’re eating. However, unfortunately, parsnips roasted in goose fat don’t really count and don’t even try to justify a Terry’s Chocolate Orange!
Things that do count, are the vegetables which aren’t smothered in butter or fat. So don’t pass on the carrots and sprouts, If you’re in charge of the cooking, you could even change your ingredients slightly to include healthier oils such as olive and coconut. This is also an excellent opportunity to get a good blender and make special Christmas smoothies for all the family. A brilliant breakfast treat, they’ll ensure that you’re still getting your vitamins throughout the festive season. Or even cook up some soups with the left overs, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a turkey and vegetable soup bubbling away on the stove come boxing day.
Getting Out and About
With all of the stresses of the Christmas period, it’s easy to forget to take time for a bit of exercise, even if this just means a family walk. Breathing in the fresh winter air with make you feel healthier in both mind and body, and taking the time to do something active will set you up for a healthier New Year as well as kicking in those endorphins. Even if you can’t persuade your family to go out in the cold, it’s an excellent way for you to spend a spare half an hour. (It’s also a great de stress tactic if you’re feeling a little tense being with the in-laws for too long.)
If you’re trying to maintain a fitness routine throughout the festive season, it can be much easier said than done. Promises to go for a run or a bike ride are easily swept away by the freezing winds or the promise of your favourite Christmas film, leaving you feeling disappointed that you didn’t manage to keep up your routine. If you need a gentle reminder to go for that run or complete that exercise video, try installing a fitness app that will send you alerts when you need to get ready. It’s much easier to excuse yourself from a family gathering when your phone is literally telling you to. Maybe even challenge other family members who use a fitness tracker to see who can pack in the most steps. It’s a great conversation starter.
Getting Some Me Time
One of the things that gets in the way of our health at Christmas time is the feeling that we have so much to do that we can’t possibly take any time out for ourselves. We have a stupidly long list of things to do before guests arrive and family members are always asking us to help them with one thing or another, but it is actually essential that we take a little bit of time for ourselves. Schedule in half an hour every day when you can retreat from the Christmas chaos and focus only on yourself.
How you use your ‘me time’ is entirely up to you, and you don’t necessarily need to do anything at all except make sure you take it. You might do some exercise, you might write in a journal or you might watch your favourite program. If you’re struggling to cope with stress, I use Headspace, a meditation app, which encourages you to sit for just ten minutes everyday and check in with your thoughts.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, so make sure you take the time to de-stress and unwind during this hectic time of year.
The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to make healthy decisions in other areas of life.
This is a collaborative post