food

5 (realistic) tips to stay healthy over Christmas.

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

‘Tis also the season to eat and drink until we descend into a food coma abyss.

Christmas food is one of the best things about the festive season.

For one month a year, it becomes acceptable to do things that are definitely not okay for the remaining 11: Eat an entire advent calendar in one sitting, have three serves of pudding with brandy sauce AND ice cream and drink eggnog at 11pm on a Wednesday.

There’s a whole lot of wonderful food, way too much alcohol and not a lot of time for exercise. It may be a recipe for fun, but it also could be doing some not-so-fun damage to your body. We then spend the whole of January and a bit of February (plus March, maybe even April) trying to get rid of our holiday weight.

Here are 5 (realistic) things you can do over the Christmas period to stay as healthy as you can:

1. Don’t binge for the whole of December.

'Eat me'. Image via iStock.

Just because the festive season starts at the beginning of the month doesn’t mean your bad eating has to. Of course, it tends to be unavoidable that you will eat a substantial amount of food on Christmas day, but Decemeber doesn't have to be your guilt-free binge month. Maybe consider Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Eve your free-for-all food days, and try to keep your diet relatively normal for the rest of the month.

2. Keep moving.

Between Christmas shopping, preparing Chrissy lunch and having the kids on school holidays, it's hard to find time to exercise in the festive season. Still, get some exercise in where you can. The summer weather is perfect for a walk around the block or a quick swim. You'll feel a lot better and healthier if you get a bit of exercise in before you sit down on the couch to watch Love, Actually for the third time this week.

And no, dancing to the Nutbush at your work Christmas party does not count as exercise.

3. Limit your soft drink and alcohol intake.

Now we're not suggesting that you cut out alcohol completely (just think how miserable you'd be next to the open bar at your work-do), but you can try to minimise your consumption. It's easy over the festive season to feel like you have a free pass to drink all the time, but try to limit it to once a week. Your body will thank you for it.

Try not to 'cheers' every second day. Image via iStock.
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Also, if you can, avoid drinking soft drinks and store-bought juices, they're just unnecessary calories. Instead drink as much water as you can – it will keep you hydrated, healthy, and will also make you feel more full and less likely to eat excessively. Win-win.

4. Don’t snack.

Snacking is the real killer over Christmas. Your house is full of candy canes from your colleagues, chocolate stockings you bought the kids for Christmas morning and leftover cookies you baked for your neighbours. My tip – avoid having bad food in the house. If you have delicious Christmas treats in the house, you will spend the entirety of December snacking. Leave the candy canes at work, buy the stockings a couple days before Christmas and don’t bring the leftover cookies home.

5. Chocolate is not the only option.

Remember there's a lot of delicious food around at Christmas time that is actually good for you. In particular there's so much beautiful fruit at this time of year to satisfy your sweet tooth. Cherries, grapes, melons, mangoes, peaches and raspberries are all in season over Christmas. Not all your desserts have to be based in chocolate or butter.

See, I'm not kidding, fruit can be yummy too. Image via iStock.

Will you be on a health kick over Christmas? Let us know in the comments.

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