For most people, one of the best novelties about Christmas is the food. It is impossible not to associate Christmas with a particular sweet scent or rich flavours. Christmas is a special time where individuals can make and eat festive delights that they have been waiting to eat all year. Many treats are secret family recipes (that have often been passed down from one generation to the next) and are finally made for a festive occasion.
While our spirits are high, our bodies can sometimes feel low after eating such rich, indulgent food. During Christmas, we consume three times more sugar, fat and calories, so it comes as no surprise that we tend to feel a bit full and groggy. Although it’ is easy to overindulge in festive food, there are a few simple steps you can take to make this Christmas healthier than usual.
1) Eat a Healthy Snack Before Going to a Christmas Party
Office Christmas parties tend to have enough food to feed an entire village. You are spoiled for choice! If you’re feeling rather hungry, you may end up eating much more than your body really needs. Satisfy your cravings beforehand and avoid putting too much on your plate by having a small bite to eat before you leave your home, like soup, salad or a piece of fruit.
2) Make Conscious Food Choices
At the dinner table, be conscious of the food you choose to eat and consider the portion size. Try sampling only your favourite foods and be sensible with the size of each serving. If you feel that you are eating more than one normal portion of food, then you should think about whether you are actually hungry. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.
3) Opt for Fruits and Vegetables
When choosing what to eat from the dinner table, make vegetable dishes a priority and opt for healthier and lighter options. Meat and carbohydrates should not make up more than one third of the food on your plate so keep this in mind. For dessert, follow the same strategy by prioritising fruits over cakes and pies.
4) Avoid Processed Meats
Processed meats like sausages and ham are high in sodium and additives that are unhealthy and can have negative effects on your body. Lean cuts of meat like turkey are a great source of protein and will likely be plentiful during the holidays.
5) Make Food from Scratch
Most ready-made meals and shop-bought desserts found in supermarkets are heavily processed; they contain high amounts of sugar, salt, saturated fats and preservatives. Buying ready-made food may be timesaving and take less effort, but cooking food from scratch will result in tastier and healthier meals. With great planning and preparation, everything is possible and remember: you don’t need to serve a meal with 10 different dishes.
6) Go for a Walk After a Heavy Meal
Most days in December consist of parties, chocolate on the office lunch table and working half-days that are too enjoyable to consider any kind of real exercise. If you know that you will soon be tucking into a heavier meal than usual, plan to go for a walk after the meal. A walk in the park or a gentle stroll to see Christmas lights ablaze around your street is a great way to help you digest. Moreover, the fresh air is an immediate mood booster!
7) Include a Healthy Eating Day in Your Holiday Agenda
Between huge feasts throughout the holidays, try to squeeze in a few healthy eating days where you prioritise fresh salads, fruit and lean protein to give your digestive system a bit of a break from all the rich food.
8) Have a Stress-Free Christmas
For many, Christmas is the season of excess; excess eating, excess waste and excess spending. Slow down this year and take the time to enjoy what really matters the most: your loved ones. Make your own gifts, be as eco-friendly as you possibly can and avoid food waste (do you really need two turkeys?!).
With extra planning and wise choices, the Christmas holidays can be healthy and stress-free. Have an amazing Christmas and a wonderful New Year!