Christmas really is a special time of year. Feasting with family and friends, trips away, time spent with the kids, or just recharging before diving into the new year is often on the agenda. Christmas, however, is also a time of overindulgence and higher stress levels for many, leaving us to contemplate new years resolutions involving losing weight, better time management, joining a gym or going on a diet.
Healthy habits can be cultivated at any time of year, negating the need for an overwhelming lifestyle overhaul come the first day of January. Follow our top tips below for staying healthy, balanced and stress-free over the holiday season and enter the new year on the right foot:
1. Stay Hydrated
Christmas can be a sweltering time of year so keep up your water intake and stay hydrated. By the time you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated, and your body can often mistake thirst for hunger, leading you to reach for a snack or overeating at a meal instead of grabbing a glass of H20. Try to avoid excessive amounts of tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drink as they can act as a diuretic, causing you to lose more fluid than you’re consuming. Some alcoholic and sugar-filled beverages are also packed with calories, so if you’re watching your waistline, they’re not the best choice.
2. Eat the Healthiest Food First
A Christmas feast usually entails a selection of nibbles, sides, mains and desserts. By eating the healthiest options first, you’re less likely to fill up on the not-so-healthy options. Try eating the nuts and fruit instead of the chips and dips, and fill up on a nice portion of salad and organic meat before indulging on dessert. It is Christmas, so don’t feel guilty about having some treats, but make sure you’ve packed in the good stuff first so your body is getting the nutrition it needs!
3. Offer to Bring Some Dishes
If you’re hosting a gathering over the holidays you probably have some control over the food on offer, but if you’re visiting at someone else’s get-together, plan ahead so you’re not caught out. Offer to bring some healthy dishes, including a delicious dessert if you know you have a sweet tooth. This way you can be sure there will be something there you can enjoy guilt-free.
4. Make Once, Eat Twice
The holidays usually mean more socialising and more mouths to feed, and the last place you want to spend your valuable time is in the kitchen preparing meals and cleaning. Make meals and snacks in bulk that can easily and safely keep for later – “make once and eat twice” (or three or four times!). Quinoa can be cooked and stored in the fridge for days, and is excellent for breakfast with fresh fruit and nuts, or for lunch and dinner with salad and meat. Keep a large green salad and a large fruit salad handy, and consider making your own muesli slice or protein balls for convenient and healthy snacks.
5. Keep Moving
Even though your regular exercise routine may be interrupted over the holidays, keep moving! This could mean playing with the kids instead of your gym or yoga class, going for a walk around the neighbourhood to look at Christmas lights or keeping games and activities on hand around the house (not surprisingly the festive cheer can bring out the little kid in most adults!). Dust off the Wii, the bikes, the tennis table and the cricket set and join in on the fun!
6. Detox from Technology
Take some time to unplug from your online life. Christmas can be a great time to authentically connect with friends and family you may not see every day. Your presence can truly be your present at this time of year. If a few people are struggling to put their phone away, you can even make a game of it. Have everyone put their phone face-down on the table during a meal. The first person to check it does all the dishes!
7. Reflect on the Year and Set Intentions for 2015
The end of December is an excellent time to reflect on the year that’s coming to a close and set intentions for the new year. You could write your thoughts down, create a vision board, or simply share your goals with someone close to you. When thinking about what you’d like to achieve or experience in the new year, take into account all areas of life – health, fitness/movement, finances, career, education, family, friends, spirituality etc.
8. Make time for YOU
Let’s face it, most of us are busy, and Christmas can be one of the most hectic times of year. Enter the new year balanced, grounded and fresh by taking some time out for you over the holidays. Sit on the deck and read that book you’ve been putting off, pamper yourself, or dive into that project you started 6 months ago and can’t wait to finish… whatever it is, spend time doing things you truly enjoy while you have some down time to do it.