Top tips on how to make this festive season lighter and healthier (but just as enjoyable) both mentally and physically!
Keeping the festive season healthy certainly doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice any levels of enjoyment. If we are lucky enough to be able to, we all indulge over the holidays, it’s a given, but I’m sure most of us would feel a lot better about it in January if we had managed to balance this by keeping those indulgences lighter than usual. And by lighter I don’t just mean opting for low-fat cream on the mince pies…here is a top 10 list of how to thoroughly enjoy your Christmas season whilst cutting back on the stress, guilt and regret! It’s a win-win!
Take time out
Doing your own thing over the holidays is just as important as sharing it with others, take some moments alone to wind down and carry out those rituals that ground you and recharge your batteries.
Walk it off
A good walk is one of the best forms of exercise and one that all the family can achieve. A post-meal stroll can help to burn off some extra calories, stretch the legs and refresh the mind. Take a drive out to somewhere special, take a picnic, make an event out of it.
Don’t pile it on
We are all tempted to pile up the plate when it comes to Christmas meals, try to hold back on portions slightly and once you’ve finished you can ask yourself if you really need to eat more, or you are actually content? There’ll probably be dessert after all!
Speaking of dessert, these needn’t always be mince pies, Christmas pudding, or other traditionally heavy after dinner treats. How about opting for spiced baked apples, or some seasonal fruit salad? Keeping it light and healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.
Any foods we are about to indulge in that contain a high fat or sugar content could actually have some ingredients easily substituted for a less decadent equivalent. There are literally thousands of recipes nowadays which taste just like the traditional version (often better in fact) but rather than using trans-fats or white refined sugar, for example, have healthier ingredients such as plant milks, agave syrup, coconut sugar, coconut oil, avocado, dates, nuts and seeds, gluten-free flour; the likes of which were not readily available when our staple favourites were invented.
Don’t sacrifice the fruit & veg
Just because it is Christmas doesn’t mean we don’t need our five (at least) a day. In fact, over the colder months and excess lifestyle moments we need to keep our immune system at its best, so a boost over the holidays is more important than ever. If it’s pancakes for breakfast take a leaf out of the ‘lighten up’ comment above and use healthy ingredients, then top them with piles of various berries, fruits and seeds, and just a dash of maple syrup! Also make sure you drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep and do plenty of exercise to keep the body strong to fight off any colds and flus.
Don’t sit down and eat and drink all day, keep the family active and make sure there are plenty of activities organised to avoid stagnancy and that feeling of saturation! Organise games with the neighbours or friends (restrictions permitting), try out the new bikes or basketball hoop, keep everyone physically active and keep it fun!
Not only on the alcohol intake, because generally this exaggerates during Christmas time, so be sure to hydrate in between and intersperse any alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks – but also on the stress levels; we tend to have a lot more on our plate (pardon the pun) over the holidays and cram in a lot of gatherings, meals, parties, reunions, and other activities, all into a two week period. This can cause a lot of unwanted stress, despite the idea that these are supposed to be joyful moments with loved ones, the fact is that adding too much to our schedule can make us anxious. Make sure you have plenty of time between events, get organised in advance and be OK with saying “no” to some things if you’re starting to feel stretched.
A time for giving
We are often guilty of overspending and spoiling each other by buying countless gifts that, if we are honest, we really don’t need. How about cutting back this year and involving the whole family in buying or donating gifts to those in need. There are plenty of charities out there that are organising deliveries to people who would be grateful to receive from us this year, this is far more the spirit of Christmas than overindulging within our own little bubble.
However you spend your Christmas this year be sure to take care of yourself and those around you, giving the gift of love is the most important one of all!
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