We all love the rituals that come with the Christmas season, decorating the tree, getting together with family and friends, and all the treats and traditional foods. Unfortunately, another Christmas tradition for many of us is overindulging in festive treats, eating too many mince pies, and taking an extra helping of stuffing. When you overeat your body will start to feel sluggish, bloated, gassy, and heartburn will start to set in.
However, enjoying the indulgent festive season doesn’t have to mean spending the new year clawing back your health or starting a fad diet. Eating traditional sweets and recipes at Christmas is part of the fun and there’s no need to completely miss out on certain foods. So, here are five ways to have a very Merry Christmas whilst still being kind to your health and heart.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
The main event of Christmas day is dinner. Don’t make room by skipping breakfast or lunch. Make sure you start your day with a healthy breakfast. This will help prevent you from snacking on too many sugary foods throughout the day.
This year, wake up a tad bit early and make a healthy breakfast the whole family will enjoy. Try serving poached eggs with a fruit platter and wholegrain toast on the side. Or start the day with a generous bowl of porridge, topped with cranberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Porridge stabilizes blood sugar levels, which will help control your appetite for the main event, dinner. By also having a bit of probiotic yogurt on the side will help boost your immunity and combat some of the less beneficial effects of the party season. (aka too much alcohol and not enough sleep) By starting your Christmas day with a healthy breakfast might just stop you from reaching for those mid-morning chocolates.
Don’t Sit Down All Day
It is easy to sit on the sofa all day and watch your favorite Christmas movie or play your new video game. But you don’t need to sit on the sofa all day! Encourage the whole family to get out for a walk at some point. Or to do some physical activity. Ideally, you will want to go for a short walk after dinner to aid digestion. The more activity you do on Christmas Day (or any day for that matter) the better!
Hydrated Is Key
It is important to stay hydrated year round and especially to make a conscious effort to drink 6-8 glasses of water, diluted juice or herbal tea during Christmas week. Maintaining your fluid intake is important. Regular teas and coffee count towards your fluid intake, but it is important to not just drink caffeinated versions. Mix it up! A good trick to stay hydrated is to start and end your day with a glass of water.
Bring Out The Small Plates
Christmas dinner usually means a huge feast, with all the fixings. But, recent research suggests we consume around 3,000 calories during Christmas dinner. That is more calories than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man. This huge feast not only contributes to weight gain but also to indigestion and heartburn. Plus by the end of dinner, you will feel very lethargic which could prevent you from taking a healthy walk.
It is hard to not gorge yourself during the Christmas holidays, but there are a few tricks you can use. Try serving Christmas dinner with small plates to help with portion sizing. Then after finishing your normal-sized meal, take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry. The brain takes some time to register if your stomach is full or not. The chances are after 20 minutes are up you’ll realize you’ve had enough.
Nix The Guilt
Don’t feel guilty about eating the foods you love. Feeling guilty after eating foods you don’t usually allow yourself to eat can breed more unhealthy behaviors. So abandon those negative voices and give yourself permission to enjoy that cake, pie, chocolate or cookie. Just make sure you remember to get back with your normal eating habits and routine the very next day. Always listen to your body. Noshing without thinking about what you’re putting into your body makes you ignore your internal cues of hunger. Listening to your body will also prevent you from eating too much sugar.
Until then, wishing you and your family a happy holidays.