Now that the Christmas season is upon us it means the time for Christmas parties, catching up with friends and family and no doubt cooking and eating many delicious treats. For these reasons this time of year can quite easily be one of over indulgence. It is important to enjoy the festive season but also be mindful of how much we’re eating. Being a foodie myself I’m well aware of the temptation to eat everything in sight, especially now that my Christmas baking has started and although it’s inevitable that we’re all going to be eating more than we should, it’s important to find ways to stay healthy and fit.
Here are some of my top tips and ideas for keeping fit, healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle over Christmas.
Drink plenty of water
Keeping hydrated is extremely important as our body often mistakes thirst for hunger. This can cause you to start eating when in actual fact you need to up the fluid intake. Drinking water not only helps to ensure you’re eating only when you need to, but aids in a number of other functions, including absoption of nutrients by food, regulating body temperature and removing waste and toxins from the body.
It’s the little things that make the biggest difference – try taking the stairs rather than the lift, parking further away and walking that extra bit to the office, get off a train station earlier. These movements, known as incidental exercise (movements that are part of your everyday life) can make a big difference to your daily exercise and the more you do it, the more used to it you will become and it will be part of your everyday life. Check out some other methods of incidental exercise here.
Give baking as gifts
It may not work for everyone but this definitely works for me. As a passionate baker I love to get in the kitchen and cook up lots of little treats, especially at Christmas time. This works as a double duty method as it not only keeps me busy and moving around the kitchen (incidental exercise), it also provides a great variety of gifts for family and friends, which also stops me from eating it all myself!
Really enjoy the food you’re eating
It may sound strange but the more you stop and enjoy the food you’re eating, particular taking time to chew, the less likely you are to over eat. This is a great tip particularly over Christmas when the temptation is there to try a bit of everything and also eat it quickly. Chewing slowly is a key factor as it allows your brain to register how much you’re eating. This process takes twenty minutes for your brain and stomach to register feelings of satiety (fullness), where various hormones come into play to communicate with your brain and provide time to allow your body to register your energy needs.
Prepare your own lunches and avoid unhealthy snacks
More often than not your friends and colleagues will be bringing in delicious treats to work and school and it’s all too tempting to over indulge, or easier to buy your lunch from the canteen so the key is to fill yourself up beforehand with healthy homemade food. Homemade lunches are great to have, as you know exactly what has gone into them. Make up meals from leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Be sure to include a good wholegrain carbohydrate (brown rice, pasta, quinoa etc), lean protein (grilled chicken, tinned tuna) and lots of vegies! If you make sure you eat this first and remember to chew slowly and enjoy, then you’re much less like to fill up on snacks.
Make your Christmas catch ups healthy
The Christmas season is notoriously busy and a time for catching up for drinks and nibbles, or dinner with friends and family. This can often get quite unhealthy, with indulgent foods and usually alcohol being consumed so why not try something different and healthy. Try going for walks together, doing a gym class or preparing a healthy meal together that you can take to your local park for a picnic. Not only do you get to spend time with your friends and family but you’re helping keep yourselves healthy.
These are just a few tips and tricks that you can utilise over the Christmas season that can help you stay healthy, and won’t leave you with that post-Christmas guilt that often falls upon many of us. Even trying one of these things is a great start and will make a significant difference to your overall health during the festive season.