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Healthy Christmas Tips – Stay on Track Without Missing Out

By Hannah Kemish | Tuesday 18th December 2018

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Christmas can be a hectic time of year. Normal routines tend to go out the window. Most people are so busy with festivities that they forget to look after themselves. I will be discussing some nutrition and exercise tips to have a healthy Christmas, without sacrificing the festive cheer!

Having a Healthy Christmas Without Missing Out

One thing that I always believe is that celebrating should be part of life. You shouldn’t be so strict that you can’t actually enjoy these special occasions. However, it is all about moderation. It’s no good being restricted over Christmas. But is it worth undoing all progress you have made all year to lose weight, tone up or get fitter? Here we discuss how to have a happy and healthy Christmas.

a healthy roast dinner

Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Christmas

Just being aware of what sort of food/drink you are consuming over the festive period is a good start. Some of the nutrition tips that I believe work and use myself are below. Remember though, everybody is different – some of these will suit you better than others. So you might need to employ a bit of trial and error. Have some fun and experiment with these tips for a tasty yet healthy Christmas!

  1. Avoid skipping meals. Try to avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast. It might seem that skipping meals will compensate for those between-meal Christmas treats. But it will have a counterproductive result. It could result in overeating when it does come to meal time. It also slows your metabolism, meaning when you eat a big meal it’s harder for your body to process it.
  2. Don’t buy food too early. Shops often stock Christmas food early, but that doesn’t mean you need it. Shops are open all across the Christmas period, so there’s no need to panic buy. Those offers on Christmas treats are tempting. But ask yourself: will it actually last until Christmas? Or will it just make it easy to overindulge?
  3. Plan your healthy options ahead of time. This way you’ll know there’ll always be a way to moderate your more indulgent food choices. It’ll be easier to make good food choices if a healthy option is within reach. Try some of these low-calorie Christmas recipes to get you started.
  4. Eat before heading out. When going out on trips or family events, try to eat before you go. This will help to reduce the temptations to eat an excessive amount. So there’s less chance you’ll overindulge on unhealthier food while out and about.
  5. Choose wisely, and with moderation. Christmas is about enjoyment, indulgence, and friend and family gatherings. There is always more temptation around food this time of year and copious amounts of nibbles. So try to pick as wisely as you can. You don’t need to restrict anything. There’s no reason to miss out on tasty Christmas treats. But just enjoy these in moderation, and fill up your plate with healthier options. Read our post on foods to boost metabolism over Christmas for some ideas.
  6. Drink in moderation. This does not just include alcohol. Fruit juices and fizzy drinks contain large amounts of sugar.  These drinks are a significant source of empty calories. These ‘hidden’ calories add to the calories you have consumed from food without filling you up.

alcohol and fizzy drinks stop you staying healthy at christmas

Exercise Tips for a Healthy Christmas

More social plans and reduced gym opening hours are tough on any exercise routine. It can be harder to fit in your usual workouts. It may be sensible to switch up how you work out to suit your social plans. Below are some methods that you could put in place to stay on track with your training.

  1. Plan when you’ll work out. It will help you make sure you get your workouts done. With some planning, you can fit your training around your Christmas plans. So you can stay fit, and still have time to enjoy social events.
  2. Train early. As Christmas approaches we find more and more social occasions cropping up. So, exercise sometimes takes the back seat. Try to do your chosen exercise in the morning. That way, it won’t interfere with your Christmas plans. Plus there will be no excuse for missing it later on in the day!
  3. Make social gatherings active. Christmas tends to be a perfect time to catch up with friends and family. Try to organise these catch-ups while doing something active. Go for a walk in the fresh air, take part in a gym class or bike ride, or even go shopping.
  4. Head to the shops. Online shopping is very inactive so try when possible to hit the shops. Walking around the shops, carrying heavy bags or pushing a trolley can be a work out in itself. It can help to burn those extra few calories, without even realising you’re doing it!
  5. Move as much as possible. This has the benefit of keeping your metabolism firing, even when you’re resting. When you are at work, go to speak to your colleagues if you have a question, rather than send them emails. This will allow you to get up and stretch your legs but also get your step count up. When parking at work or at the supermarket, park further away and walk in.
  6. Make it a family affair. Getting the whole family involved will make it easier for you to keep fit and active. Having a healthy Christmas could even be fun! If you are doing activities as a family, it will feel less like you’re missing out on other things.
  7. Make your routine flexible. During the Christmas period, you may need to make slight alterations to your training program. Your weight training sessions may change into body weight resisted exercise. You may have to go for a walk or run outdoors instead of your usual treadmill or gym-based cardio workout. Changing it up beats skipping your routine altogether. There’s no reason why you can’t stay challenged. Instead of a flat running route, why not find a steep incline for hill sprints?

Try going for a Christmas run to stay active

Have a Merry, Healthy Christmas

So, I have discussed the main tips and methods for a healthy Christmas. These will help limit the damage that the holiday season can do to your progress, without missing out! Like I said at the beginning, Christmas is about enjoying yourself. Try and stay focused on what you can have and do, and not what you can’t, as that is all you will think about. There’s no fun in being deprived at Christmas!

The Christmas period is all about having fun with friends and families. So make sure you do that! Just try and be aware of not undoing all the progress you have made from your hard work throughout the year. Try some of the tips that I have discussed to help you keep on track and have a happy, healthy Christmas.

Hannah Kemish

Contributor

Strength and Conditioning Coach, MSc, BSc (Hons)

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