The festivities of the month are in full swing and Christmas is only a week away. Hooray! I don’t know about all of you, but one of my favourite things about this time of year is how much delicious food is available. There are Christmas feasts to die for, dozens of yummy Christmas cookies to try out, who knows how many festive beverages and so much more. December is just a smorgasbord of mouth-watering dishes.
Now, as fantastic as that is, it doesn’t exactly sound great for those of us trying to stay healthy. I mean, Christmas is not exactly known for being a period of health consciousness and weight loss, and it tends to be a pretty unhealthy time of the year for most of us. If I had to just start thinking of all the calories in some of my favourite dishes, I’d probably start crying. What’s worse is that it is so easy to get swept up in the joy of festivities that we forget about our health entirely, and we end up starting the new year (with all of our health goals and new fitness programs) a little bit behind the starting line because of the holiday weight we’ve put on. So does that mean it is impossible to stay healthy over Christmas with all the temptation in our way?
My answer is no. It is always possible to stay healthy, it just takes having the right attitude. Being healthy, though, doesn’t mean you have to heavily restrict yourself or ban yourself from enjoying the holiday flavours. All that is going to do is cause cravings, and then binges and no one wants that. For me, I’ll always indulge over Christmas. I will eat more than I usually do, and eat a little more sweet stuff than is in my typical day. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to work on being healthy. I may do all of this stuff, but I will still keep up the exercise and try to look and go for the healthier option. So, here are ten tips for staying healthy over the festive season, if you are like me and want to have your Christmas cake, and eat it too.
Eat before a party
If you’re going to a party where you know there will be bountiful servings of lush holiday treats, like desserts, cookies or even just a scrumptious, hearty meal, I’d suggest eating a good meal before you go. What that does is you won’t be arriving on an empty stomach, so you will be far less tempted to snack on all of those unhealthy treats. The fact that you have eaten beforehand will keep those evil little tempting thoughts at bay and allow you to only eat the things you really want and in moderation. Even if you are going to a sit-down dinner, eat something small beforehand. That way, starvation won’t tempt you to go for seconds and thirds, and you can enjoy a nice meal that leaves you comfortable without overindulging.
Drink lots of water
Who knew there were so many benefits to drinking water right? I’ve talked about how water can actually be an appetite suppressant in my previous health blog posts, so there is no better time to use that trick than during Christmas when we could all do with a little appetite suppressing. If you stay hydrated, you are far less likely to reach for a Christmas cookie or other unhealthy holiday snack. This is because we often mistake thirst for hunger, so if you don’t stay hydrated, you are far more likely to overeat. Have some water when you wake up, and half an hour before each meal. Another good idea is to keep a water bottle on you whenever you go out, to make sure you drink enough.
Try some healthy alternatives
Who says there can’t be some healthy alternatives in there? You don’t have to ditch Christmas cookies entirely, because that would be just awful, but you could say that this year you try and make healthy alternatives. The internet is full of healthy recipes that are not a bad substitute for our calorie-heavy holiday favourites. Will they taste the same? Probably not. But who knows? You may just discover your new favourite holiday cookie while trying out these healthier recipes. You could also try mixing up your snacks. Instead of just putting out or snacking on the delicious yet unhealthy chips, dips and desserts, add in some fruits or vegetables. Not only is it far healthier for your body to mix in some health to those snacks, but it also adds lovely colour to your snack platter.
Trick your senses
Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is immune to cravings. Sometimes all we want is to bite into a fresh Christmas cookie, hundreds of calories and all. You don’t want to give in to your cravings, but you also don’t want to ignore them and make them stronger. So try and give in without all the extra fat and calories. If you’re craving a grande latte, try having some pumpkin-spiced tea instead. Or, if a cookie is really all you want, have a tablespoon of almond butter with some dark chocolate chips. You could even freeze grapes and berries to eat instead of sugary sweets. Your taste buds are far more straightforward than you think – they only know sweet, sour, salty or bitter and not necessarily cookie or dessert, so you can trick them into silence with a healthy alternative.
Don’t forget to exercise
Exercise can be a hard thing to get up and do, especially during the holiday season when there are so many other things you would rather be doing (snuggled up watching Christmas romances would be my top choice). Try to keep up your exercise routine as much as you can, or at the very least try to get moving as much as possible. Exercise is so crucial for both physical and mental health and can really keep you going through the stress of the season. So, even if you don’t feel like hitting the gym (totally understandable), try to factor in some extra movement throughout your day. Park in the furthest parking spot and take a lap around the store before you make your purchase. Play in the snow, or even do some more lowkey home workouts. Every little bit helps.
Avoid mindless snacking
During this time of the year, there is an abundance of unhealthy snack food wherever you go. Snack platters at Christmas parties, Christmas cookies everywhere and who can count how many boxes of chocolate. How easy is it to snuggle up in front of the tv with a favourite snack and before you know it there is none left? Avoid mindless eating by giving yourself a small portion for snacking and then putting the rest away. Don’t bring the whole bag/box/container and rather dish up a small bit of it. Also, DO NOT STAND BY THE SNACK TABLE! Because it is just so easy to keep reaching for another little nibble. Mindless snacking is truly the death of good intentions to maintain health over the holidays.
Be aware of sneaky calories
Some calories might be very obvious. For example, we all know that eating a massive portion of dessert, a packet of crisps or even a handful of chocolates isn’t exactly going to be a light addition to your calorie count for the day. What we often forget about are the sneaky calories, particularly the ones in alcoholic beverages. Liquid calories are more often than not the real killer, except most people don’t often think about them. Forget about alcoholic beverages, even the non-alcoholic ones like holiday coffees and other drinks are massive calorie hits. Skip out on some of the creamier, more sugar-filled drinks and opt for the almond or soy milk options. Also, cut down how many sugars you put in your drink. You’d be surprised how just a few small changes like that (and skipping on the whipped cream and syrup) can cut the cals right back down.
No diets or banning of foods
We talked about cravings earlier, but now is the time for me to say it. NO DIETS OR BANNING OF FOOD DURING THE HOLIDAY! Why? Because the only thing it can do is cause cravings and binges and sadness that can so easily be avoided. You don’t need to ban anything. Instead, limit yourself and say you can only have one. That way, you still get to enjoy the taste without overdoing it. There is no need to miss out on all of the holiday deliciousness because you are trying to stay healthy, although I admire anyone who wants to make such a sacrifice. Diets, or food restrictions, in my opinion at least, are only going to make you sad when you see everyone else enjoying something you have sworn off of, and they more often than not lead to cravings you just can’t ignore. Rather be aware of what you are putting in your body and have a little of everything.
The key is moderation
Speaking of having a little of everything, the best tip I can suggest is just knowing that the key is to have everything in moderation. You’ve probably heard this over and over again, but it’s the truth. Like I said, there is no need to cut certain things out of your diet to keep your trim waistline and stay healthy for the new year. Rather practice moderation. Focus on not eating too much overall, like having one helping instead of two. Also, if you really want that unhealthy thing, have just one or a small portion. That way, you get to enjoy the taste while not overindulging or going overboard with it. It’s all about moderation.
Guilt? What guilt?
Last but not least, it is essential to get rid of any guilt. If you happen to overdo it one day, had one more portion of dessert that you intended, or even gave in and had a cookie when you said you wouldn’t, it is essential not to let yourself feel guilty. This is a hard time of year for anyone who enjoys food and doesn’t have unbreakable willpower. If you eat something you didn’t plan on or ate a little too much, you must remember not to feel guilty because what good is that going to bring? Accept the fact that this month was a little unhealthier and instead of beating yourself up for that extra portion of dessert, rather enjoy it, enjoy your Christmas and do an additional ten minutes at the gym. Guilt is the crusher of joy, and in this season of joy, you shouldn’t be tough on yourself for something as small as a delicious little indulgence. No guilt this holiday, deal?
And so there you have it! I know how hard it can be to stay strong and healthy over the holidays so if you, like me, struggle with this then I really hope this blog post was helpful and can help you keep your health goals intact while still enjoying all of the deliciousness that this season brings.
Have I missed any tips, though? Do you have any suggestions you’d like to share? Please share them in the comments section – I would love to hear them!
As always, thank you all so much for reading my blog. Please don’t forget to hit that little like button and subscribe, so you don’t miss out on future blog posts. I wish you all a relatively healthy and delicious festive season!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx