10 Ways To Enjoy The Festive Season The Healthy Way

The festive season is fast approaching – wait what am I saying? With only 1 more Monday until Christmas, the festive season is practically here! Along with the festive season brings the Christmas parties. Christmas parties with friends, Christmas parties with family, your work Christmas party, your partner’s work Christmas party, the list goes on and on. And lets not even get started on the New Year events. By being the social beings we are, we like to involve food in the majority of our social events, and the festive season is no exception. Besides being able to celebrate with our closest family and friends, there is a lot of hype and focus on food throughout the festive season. So I have put together my 10 top tips for enjoying the festive season the healthy way.

1. Give into your cravings!

By indulging every now and again, we lower our chance for serious cravings. These often lead to binging and consequently, the feeling of guilt. It’s the silly season, there is not time to feel guilty. Remember it’s all about what you do MOST of the time!

2. Out exercise those extra kilojoules!

When I say it’s all about balance, it’s not an excuse to brush off a naughty treat or 4. I literally mean life needs to be kept in balance. So if you find yourself having a naughty Christmas treat, snack, dessert etc more than you usually would, that is ok. It just means you also need to up the exercise. All it takes is 10 minutes to work up a sweat.

3. Carry a water bottle EVERYWHERE!

Firstly, it’s incredibly important to stay hydrated. Secondly, many of us at times confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger. By staying regularly hydrated we decrease our chances of over-eating and under-drinking (H20 that is).

4. Be prepared!

I’m not a big believer in the “thanks but no thanks” response to a Christmas party just because you know that there won’t be many food choices that suit your lifestyle. My advice, say yes and eat before you go. That way you may only eat one or two of those not-so-healthy, deep fried canapés and won’t be tempted to make a meal out of them.

5. Eat slowly!

Eating slowly is not just a tip you should adopt over Christmas, but as a general rule for everyday wellbeing. I get it. Sometimes you just want to get from the state of hungry to full as quick as possible. But did you know that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the chemicals that are released when you are full to reach you brain? I know how much food I could probably eat in 20 minutes (a lot!), so 20 minutes is a pretty long time to be over-eating. My advice – eat slowly, engage in conversation with someone, and put your knife and fork down on the table every now and again between mouthfuls. Now if you finish your meal and you’re still hungry and are thinking of going up for seconds, wait 20 minutes and then ask yourself again if you’re still hungry for that second serving? Most of the time you will find that you aren’t.

6. Get rid of the guilt!

I once read something that said:

“Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.”

And this is so appropriate and relatable to the festive season. Ok so lets say you slightly over-indulged at the Christmas buffet last night; like 2 serves of main course and 3 rounds of dessert kind of over-indulged. DO NOT beat yourself up about it. One bad day is not going to make a major difference in your overall wellbeing. Just like one good day won’t make you healthy. Too often people give into the festive season guilt and adopt the view of “Oh I will start again in the New Year”. When you have a setback, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, remember why you started this, and remind yourself just how far you’ve already come. Like I always say, life is about BALANCE. It is what you do MOST of the time.

7. Cacao! Cacao! Cacao!

Haven’t yet cooked with cacao? Cacao is a wonderful, healthy substitute for chocolate and there are so many nourishing Christmas recipes you can create using cacao. Visit your local health food store, pick up some cacao powder or cacao nibs, and experiment with a recipe or two. 

8. Out of sight, out of mind!

Personally, this is a big one for me. You leave a box of chocolates on the kitchen bench, let me walk past it half a dozen times throughout the day and all of a sudden I “feel” like chocolate. If you’re one of those super organised people and get your Christmas food shopping done early (not me – I battle the shopping trolley road rage just days before Christmas), keep your festive food in the cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind.

9. Get your 8 hours!

When you’re sleep deprived, two of the major hormones that affect your metabolism and hunger, ghrelin and leptin, are put out of balance. Put simply, you end up eating more and you have a slower metabolism. A double negative, ouch! So amongst those Christmas parties and New Year events, make sure you get some decent shuteye.

10. Contribute to the menu!

What better way to ensure there are healthy Christmas Day options available by contributing to the menu or even cooking yourself!

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