The holiday season is the time of Christmas dinners, seasonal treats (hello mince pies, mulled wine, and marzipan!), copious amounts of home cooking, and weather that doesn’t seem conducive to those morning runs or trips to the gym. With these unfavourable conditions, it certainly seems that all fitness and healthy eating goals are doomed to failure. A few small habits and choices, however, can minimise guilt whilst still allowing indulgence in the season’s delights – after all, Christmas only comes once a year.
1. Eat a small, healthy snack before parties
It’s tempting to ‘save up’ calories if you know you’re going to a party with going to be lots of tasty treats. This plan usually backfires, however, because by the time you see the buffet table, you’re absolutely starving and promptly devour everything. Oftentimes before you know it you’ve consumed much more than you intended to and now feel neither proud nor trim. Thus it’s a good strategy to have a small, healthy snack about an hour or so beforehand so that you’re not ravenous. Fruits, vegetables, and/or protein are recommended options: for example an apple or pear, some carrots and/or celery with hummus, a boiled egg, or a slice or two of turkey.
2. Pick and choose indulgences
If you’re like me, it’s super hard to pass a mince pie without wanting to buy one (or in my case, actually giving in and buying one…). But how many do you actually need to feel festive? Try prioritising your treats, making sure that each delicious serving is truly the best you can get. Why buy a large yet lacklustre pack of waxy fudge when one fantastic, high-quality piece yields greater satisfaction? Additionally, it might be worth making a list of which holiday indulgences you’d like to partake in and then ‘checking them off’. This way, you can make sure you get each and every seasonal delight whilst neither depriving yourself nor missing a favourite.
3. Get plenty of sleep
With all the exciting events at this time of year, it’s easy to skimp on sleep. Since lack of sleep decreases your ability to cope with stress, increases unhealthy food cravings, and reduces energy for exercising, this is not a good thing for your waistline. Try to aim for 7-9 hours every night (failing that, an additional afternoon nap) to keep you sane, fit, and away from mindless snacking.
4. Keep up exercising
Yes, this is an obvious one. The weather, the crazy social schedule, and the all-too-common bloating makes fitness extra hard at this time of year, but even a few minutes of movement each day can improve quality of sleep, boost concentration, and stave off cravings. So even if it’s just a quick twenty-minute routine in your room, a bit of exercising goes a long way to increasing wellbeing during the Christmas season.
5. Relax and enjoy!
You can follow the first four tips to the letter and have a horrible holiday if you’ve stressed over every guilty pleasure. Part of health is happiness, and it’s far better to gain half a stone and enjoy every second of the festivities than to maintain your figure amidst stress and deprivation. So enjoy those seasonal Costa lattes, massive Christmas roasts, and glasses of mulled wine – it’s only once a year!
Carmen Paddockbookmark me