How to stay healthy at Christmas

Christmas background from the red apples, cookies and spices

Wonderful as they are, holidays aren’t always the healthiest of times. Filled with family, sweets, extra spending, parties and crowds, they are a perfect recipe for major stress and overindulging. Staying healthy is almost impossible… or is it?

Christmas background from the red apples, cookies and spicesLet’s look at it from a different angle. Instead of throwing in the towel from the start with that tired rationalisation “Oh I’ll get healthy in January”, why not try to combat the excess from the start?

Avoid sugar overload

Beginning with food, since that is the biggest problem for many of us. This time of year, we are faced with an obscene amount of sugar in the workplace, in supermarkets and disguised as gift ideas.

But you don’t have to eat it all! Yes, you can enjoy the season and your favourite foods, but nobody is forcing you to consume every last ‘treat’ that comes your way. Choose wisely by making a plan that fits with your holiday schedule.

This could be as simple as deciding which days to indulge, and on the off days try to eat a little more healthily.  So if you know your office work party is Thursday, you plan for it Monday-Wednesday. Eat big lunches and small dinners and have your evening meal early, so you sleep soundly. Stick to lean protein and veggies and avoid alcohol on these days. Go to bed early and try to fit in a daily workout. Good start.

Then, as Thursday rolls around, BAM! Your new dress looks amazing, your skin and eyes are clear, and you have no guilt eating like a crazed animal, doing shooters with the boss and having a third piece of pie. Seriously.

Now two things are going to happen. You will wake up and feel like sh*%t, so it buys you a few days of not even considering doing it again, and you will be admired by your workmates for letting loose and still looking great.

Okay, now back to the gym.

Woman in a lotus position on the snowFinding peace at family occasions

Whether you are hosting or attending, family gatherings can often be stressful, with everyone crammed in together and lots of noise and over indulging.

Yoga can really help here. Yoga breathing can centre and ground you immensely. Try practising deep, slow breathing before or even during the event. A yoga session in the morning has a lasting effect on the whole day. It’s great for toning and brilliant for balancing your emotions.

So you not only look fantastic and possibly dodge that weird comment from your sister, but if it does happen, you’ll handle it with grace and poise. Go you.

Soothe away the shopping stress

Shopping is another big source of seasonal stress. First and foremost, avoid going shopping hungry. You will most certainly falter midway through when your energy drops and you end up eating something that you normally would not consider, like a greasy meal followed by a sugary pudding. Which results in stomach ache followed by a blood sugar crash.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Before heading out to the shops, prepare mentally and physically: take an exercise class or do a quick workout with light weights at home, shower and eat a good meal. Make a list of exactly what gifts you need to buy, and then brave the holiday hustle prepared and grounded.

And yes, have a glass of wine when you get home — you’ve earned it. But again, one is plenty, followed by a healthy meal.

And now, my friends, you walk into January not at a deficit, but already committed and successful in your health regimen and eating disciplines, and feeling empowered for the New Year. Cheers!

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