Christmas is all about having quality time with friends & family and going to dinner parties & endless lunches. However, all these festivities might make it more difficult to stay healthy throughout this month. Although I’m a firm believer in not depriving yourself and enjoying ALL the good food, most of us feel bloated, tired & guilty by the time January comes around. In Belgium we have this saying “better to prevent than to cure”, so with this in mind, I wanted to share some tips & tricks to stay (relatively) healthy this Christmas. If you keep these in mind, you won’t have to do a silly January detox and spend a whole month trying to shed those Christmas kilos.
1. Start your day well. If you start with a nutritious breakfast, it’s much easier to stick to healthy routines the rest of the day. Try this festive granola with (coconut) yoghurt, a simple porridge or a green protein smoothie. Even if you’ve planned a massive Christmas feast in the evening, at least you’ve started your day well and you’ll feel much better about it!
2. Balance out your nutritious and indulgent meals. If you know you’re going for a big family dinner, try to eat something filling for breakfast (porridge) and something light for lunch (a beetroot salad or a homemade soup). Also try to eat extra fruit & veggies on the days you haven’t got any parties planned. Balance is everything!
3. Every little helps. It’s not because it’s the most acceptably fatty time of year, that you get to eat everything you see. Saying “no” to one amuse bouche, a glass of champagne or a second serving can definitely make a big difference if you add it all up. Don’t think “okay.. one more!” but only eat/drink if you really want to.
4. Stick to good habits. Think about the things you do when you really try to be healthy and stick to them during December as well. Drink those 2 liters of water, go for that morning run and don’t switch from green tea to chocolate milk just because it’s so festive. Your body will be grateful if you keep drinking plenty of water.
5. Keep moving. I know it’s hard to stay active when it’s dark before and after work, but sports will actually keep you energised all throughout the winter. There’s no better feeling than endorphins running through your body! And if you’ve just gone for a run, it will be much easier to say no to those Christmas cookies. Would be a pity, right?
6. Cardio is hardio.. but remember Christmas shopping also counts as cardio ;)
7. Family time. Christmas is all about spending time with your family, so why not do something active all together? My favourite thing is to go for a long walk when the first snow has fallen. Even a 30 minute walk every day will help you clear your mind while being active.
8. Be conscious & self aware. It’s so easy to overeat simply because there’s SO much food and it’s all SO good. Of course you’re allowed to indulge and enjoy, it’s part of the fun, but be aware of what you’re eating and enjoy the flavours consciously. It’s not every day you’ll get to enjoy this special Christmas food!
9. Sharing is caring. If there’s a huge dessert buffet, it might be tempting to try everything on offer, but instead why not share some sweets with someone. Or if you receive a nice box of chocolates, why not bring them to work to share with your co-workers? It’s a win-win!
10. Stay hydrated. Nobody likes hangovers, so remember to drink 1 glass of water for every glass of wine/champagne/alcohol you take. And although champagne is probably offered on a silver platter at every dinner, party and brunch, try to go for water sometimes. Here are my top 6 tips! Drinking a big glass before going to bed and after waking up also helps you to stay hydrated!
11. Enjoy yourself & relax! Even if you eat way too much on Christmas eve and don’t get out of bed on January first (hello hangover!), remember that it’s nothing to feel bad about. If you stick to nutritious food most of the time, a few fatty meals & parties won’t have a big impact. Being healthy also means having a healthy relationship with food, so don’t obsess but enjoy!
To sum it all up, the keyword is moderation. Of course you get to enjoy all the food food & drinks, I mean you HAVE TO, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! But if you want to prevent having to start 2016 slightly unhappy & unhealthy, you need a little bit of self-discipline. Remember that “more is not more” when it comes to food. Just think about this: whatever you’re eating, you already know what it tastes like, so there’s no need to eat LOADS of it, no matter how good. Focus on being with your family, good conversations and generally having a good time. Good luck & I hope you have a fantastic holiday season!