Christmas is a problematic time for a lot of people who are trying to stick to a plan of healthy eating and exercise. Thanks to the holiday’s origins as a midwinter festival, rich foods, heavy alcohol, and gluttony tend to be the norm at the numerous end-of-year parties with friends, co-workers, and family members. And while it doesn’t hurt to relax your eating a little, the large amount of alcohol around can lead to relaxed inhibitions and a lot of unplanned eating. We’ve put together our top tips for staying on track over Christmas while not denying yourself any fun.
Eat before you go out
Unless you’re going to a sit-down dinner, an easy way to stick close to your eating plan without being puritanical is to eat at home beforehand. This can be a lifesaver in a few different ways:
- Saves you from filling up on canapes and appetisers, which are often quite high in calories and low in nutritional value.
- Ensures that any alcohol you drink won’t go straight to your head. This can also help to ensure that your head remains clear enough that you make good decisions about your health.
- Avoids any cravings for fat and sugar that can occur when you get too hungry, so that you’re less likely to finish the night chowing down on fried foods.
Eat some protein and plenty of vegies, so that your body has plenty of good fuel to burn for energy.
Plan your eating ahead of schedule
If you’re going to a sit-down dinner, have a look at the menu before you go and pick out a meal that fits in with your eating plan. If you decide in advance what you’re going to eat, you’re less likely to make a bad choice on the spur of the moment.
Drink low-calorie alcohol
If you’re going to drink alcohol, try to stick to lower-calorie drinks like red wine (which also contains resveratrol) or vodka, lime and soda. If you’re on the 10-week challenge, though, be aware that you need to stay alcohol-free for the entire ten week period to get the benefits of the program.
No confrontation needed
If you don’t feel like standing up to people who want you to drink – and let’s face it, the last thing you want at Christmas is an argument – then consider buying lookalike drinks. Get a lemon lime and bitters or a lime and soda in a short glass over ice.
Keep your portions small
There’s no need to completely deny yourself all of your favourites at Christmas dinner. Where possible, fill up on the lower-fat meats, salads and vegetables. Enjoy small amounts of the less-healthy foods – just remember to eat them as treats, not as your main course.
Contribute a salad or two
One great thing about Aussie Christmases is that bringing a couple of salads to a party usually fits well with the weather and is a welcome addition to a lunch or dinner. Where appropriate, make tasty, healthy salads to take along to family and friends’ houses. Fill up primarily on the salads that you brought along, as these are known quantities.
Moderation is the key to health
While it’s easy to buy into the gluttony hype around this time of year, we really do think that it’s possible to have fun and stay healthy over the holiday period. If you can keep indulgences small and savour each one, you’ll probably end up having more fun, not less, when you save yourself hangovers, indigestion, and other symptoms of over-indulgence. Happy holidays from the team!