Simple Strategies for a Healthy Christmas

Simple Strategies for a Healthy Christmas

The Christmas season is such a joyous time of the year, where family and friends come together to share in gifts, food, laughs and happiness. While this can be the season of over-indulgence, it is important to focus on enjoying yourself and the time with family and friend without putting pressure on yourself to stick to your normal health routine. We have put together some simple tips and strategies which will help you to have a healthy Christmas for both your body and mind without feeling like your missing out.

Here are a handful of simple strategies that can help to keep you on track during the Christmas season...

Offer to bring a plate - and make it healthy!

By offering to bring something along, you can basically control that section of the meal, if you are able to you can even pick the meal which tends to be your greatest weakness and take the temptation out of the equation. Try one of our Christmas meal healthy swap ideas:

Snacks & Nibbles

Dried Apple Slices

  • Dried fruit is perfect for a healthy snack alternative, and the whole family will love it. Why not have a dried fruit platter sitting around for both before and after the main meal. A food dehydrator will allow you to dry a wide variety of your favourite fruits for the day. Why not a tropical Australian Christmas mix with dried mangoes, dragon fruit, pineapple and star fruit!
  • Using a blender, whip up some fresh dips or hummus using fresh vegetables and pulses. Try combinations like beetroot, chickpea and fetta or cucumber, natural yoghurt, garlic and mint. Serve with vegetable sticks like carrots or celery.
  • Dry roast mixed nuts in the oven or dehydrate over night, sprinkled with Christmassy spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin and a little salt.

Healthy Christmas Main Meal

  • Serve a variety of salads rather than fried or roasted vegetables. Fresh salads are perfect for the hot Australian summer Christmas and are much lighter.
  • If you want hot vegetables, choose to steam them if possible. If you are wanting to roast them, use coconut oil as a much healthier oil alternative.
  • If you are choosing to eat meat this holiday season, try to choose ethically sustainable, organic and healthy types of meat. Fresh, locally caught and sustainable seafood is your best bet or by talking to your local ethical and organic butcher you will get a better idea of the healthier cuts of meat for your purpose.

Healthy Christmas Dessert Ideas

  • You can't go wrong with a fruit platter! Using a wider variety of tropical fruits will turn an ordinary fruit platter into an impressive centre piece. Sprinkle with fresh mint, or even add some dark chocolate/carob nibs for something extra special.
  • Dip fruit into melted dark chocolate or carob nibs and put into the fridge to set. You can do this with any fruit of your choice and they will satisfy any sweet tooth.
  • Dry roast mixed nuts in the oven or dehydrate over night, sprinkled with Christmassy spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin and a little salt.

Eat mindfully...

We have a couple of simple tips which will help you to eat mindfully over Christmas, to help reduce that "roll out the door" feeling after family Christmas meals...

  • Portion control - fill your plate full of salads and fresh vegetables and try to limit servings of roast vegetables and meats. Filling up on the fresh stuff is always a good idea, and doesn't make you feel as though your eating less than everyone else.
  • Slow down - on Christmas day when the family lunch or dinner finally comes together and everyone is seated, there is a "ready set go" effect which tends to mean we gorge down a massive meal and it is finished before you know it! Try to be mindful of each mouthful; it will help you to realise when you are actually full and satisfied rather than over-eating.
  • Don't starve yourself before the main meal. It is when our body is staving that we tend to over compensate and eat far too much.

Be alcohol aware...

In Australia during the holiday season we tend to not only eat in excess but our alcohol consumption goes through the roof. During this time of celebration it's only natural to want to have a few drinks and enjoy the festivities and celebrations. While sometimes it can be unrealistic to think about cutting out alcohol altogether, we have a couple of tips to keep in mind which should help you to make better choices when drinking:
Christmas Drink Ideas

  • Drink water in between your drinks - this is a pretty obvious one, but for good reason! Alcohol will dehydrate your body and drinking water will counteract this by re-hydrating your body. It is the dehydration that causes a hangover, so the best thing you can do is to keep drinking H2O to avoid a sore head on boxing day! another great trick is to put more ice into your drinks, either in cubes or crushed. This will help you to stop drinking so quickly and give you extra water.
  • Choose healthier mixers - it can be the mixers which are laden with sugar and preservatives that can lead to additional weight gain when consumed in excess. Swap soft drinks, soda and pre-packaged juice for cold press juice, coconut water or soda water and lime if you want something fizzy. We have compiled our favourite Christmas Juice Recipes which are perfect for mixing with alcohol.
  • Choose wine without sulfites - majority of both red and white wine contains sulfites, a type of preservative and if possible should be avoided (just like most preservatives). Sulfites have been linked to problems with people who have asthma and other allergies. There is quite a range of wines available now which are free from sulfites as well as things you can add to wine to remove the sulfites.

Try to move your body as much as possible...

We know that the Christmas season is a very busy time of the year and sometimes it can be really hard to stick to your usual exercise routine or squeeze in the time to workout. It is so important to try to fit in some time during the holidays to move your body.

Exercise will clear your mind, rejuvenate your energy levels and help you get through this stressful time. Exercising in the morning before the big Christmas lunch will also help to set you in a healthy mindset for the rest of the day and you will find you make healthier choices throughout the day because of it. Just 30 minutes a day will make a huge difference to the way you feel coming into the new year!

Our tips for making sure you move your body during Christmas:

  • Plan your day and set goals - Pre-organizing your day will help you to know when you are exercising and to make sure you do actually squeeze in the time to do it. We find it better to try to exercise in the morning, it will clear your mind for the day ahead and it is much easier to get your workout done and out of the way for the rest of the day without having to worry about when your are going to fit it in.
  • Involve exercise or activities in family time - get everyone together for a morning walk or head down to the beach or park and play a family game. It will be fun and it is a great way to squeeze in a workout.
  • Don't pressure yourself - the worst thing you could do is to feel guilty over the holiday season. Enjoy this time of celebration and be at peace with the fact that you will get back into the swings of things when the holiday season is over. The worst thing you can do is feel guilt and not enjoy this wonderful time of the year!

Ilonka Hofmann