It can be tough to stay healthy during the holiday season. Routines are changed, the social calendar is bursting, and temptations abound. But there are some steps you can take to minimise the discomfort that comes from over-indulgence.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration!
Let’s face it, we are all prone to drinking more than usual this time of year. Alcohol is a diuretic (so you pee more) increasing your risk of dehydration. The headache that typically accompanies a hangover is usually due to dehydration. If you know you will be drinking later, keep a bottle with you throughout the day and top it up with water. And try to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. A simple trick that can make such a difference. You will be so pleased you did in the morning!
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Always the best way to start the day, but this time of year it’s the one meal where you’re more likely to be successful sticking to good intentions than when out socialising at lunch or at a party. Try to include a good mix of fruit and veggies, some protein and good fats – smoothies are perfect for this as you can sneak in your veggies, fruit, add avocado for healthy fat, almond butter for protein and some oats. Try mixing with almond milk or coconut water and you have a great start to your day that will give you energy to go.
- Don’t skip meals. It’s easy to think that if you skip breakfast and lunch it will balance out when you over-indulge at dinner. It doesn’t work that way! Skipping meals leads to hunger, and a drop in blood sugar levels, which will see you reaching for the first food you can find – no matter how unhealthy it is! Eating 3 well-balanced meals a day is best. If you have overeaten at lunchtime, have a lighter dinner, but always include some protein and good quality fats to help maintain energy and stop the crazy cravings later on.
- Don’t forget to move! Tempting as it may be to play couch potato for the holiday season, getting up and getting active is vital. Not only will it help you burn excess calories, but your digestive system will benefit from increased blood flow. And if you are able to get outside then the fresh air will be sure to give you a boost.
- Eat a Christmas rainbow. Christmas dinner itself doesn’t need to be unhealthy – it’s the extras that catch us out. Turkey and salmon are often on offer, both of which are good sources of protein. Go easy on the starchy veg (roast potatoes) and the yorkshire puddings, and go heavy on the colourful veg. Brussel sprouts, parsnips, peas and beans, green leafy veg, sweet potato or pumpkin are all commonly served for Christmas lunch and will help maximise vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient intake.
Following these easy steps, and remembering that moderation is key will help you survive the excesses of the season. But most importantly, remember this is a time for enjoying family time together, relaxing, and recharging the batteries. So go ahead and let the festivities begin!