Christmas is just around the corner, and you know what that means – lots of family, friends, and comfort food! While you might not necessarily be stuffing your face with gingerbread men or candy canes, we generally tend to eat less healthy during the holiday period because we feel like we’ve earnt it after making it through the year. There’s also somewhat of a social obligation to participate in the buffet and social gatherings and this can make it almost impossible to stick to your weekly meal plan if you’re currently using one.
The following 5 tips will give you some useful ways you can minimise unhealthy eating over the holidays so that you don’t reverse all of the progress you’ve made during the year.
1. Mind over matter
The best tool in your arsenal against holiday cravings is your own willpower. If you acknowledge that you are going to be confronted with certain temptations and social pressures, then you will be able to prepare a strategy to help you avoid giving in. When you have no plan for what you’re going to do or say when your aunt offers you a slice of her signature chocolate pudding, then it’s incredibly easy to just give in and follow along with everyone else.
This step could be a simple as thinking about a standard response you can give to everyone about your current diet and why you need to respectfully decline their offers of sugary food and/or drink.
2. Explore and get inspired by healthy recipes
A great way to combat the urge to eat unhealthy food is to surround yourself with, and to spend time thinking about, healthy food. Start researching new meals to prepare that might have some unconventional qualities that keep things interesting, such as a dish inspired by HelloFresh’s Caribbean beef chilli that will spice up your appetite with its creamy coconut rice and mango chutney.
There are plenty of free online resources you can consult to get inspiration, with many of them catering to a specific niche like Asian or European cuisine. Perhaps you could even explore recipes that put a healthy twist on holiday classics and introduce them to friends and family at the next Sunday lunch.
3. Limit your alcohol consumption
Of course, this tip hard to put into practise when you’re already 3 beers deep at the Christmas party – but it’s worth mentioning. There’s a huge deal of peer pressure to celebrate the end of the year with more alcohol than usual, but if you really want to avoid crashing your diet it’s a good idea to learn how to cut yourself off and wind down with a glass of water.
Adopting healthier drinking habits in general is a good idea, as modern humans generally drink far too much alcohol, way too often. When you start saying no and show others that you don’t need to binge drink to enjoy the holidays, you also help influence others to make healthier choices. Try swapping your beer for a glass of Taste’s no-alcohol Santa Claus punch.
4. Smart snacking
One of the most insidious sources of holiday weight is the increased snacking we do. Christmas chocolate seems to be everywhere in the hands of both children and adults, making it almost impossible to avoid being offered some. Be mindful of this and fill up on HuffPost’s healthier snacks like trail mix or a piece of fruit.
5. Getting adequate sleep
Because of the celebratory nature of the holidays, with events like annual Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations, we tend to stay up later and get inadequate levels of rest. The less proper rest your body has, the hungrier you are and the more weight you put on; so make sure you are getting your 7-8 hours of sleep each night!
According to Health Direct lot of people struggle getting to sleep because they use lots of technology in the lead up to going to bed. The blue light that emits from phones and computer/tv screens make it harder for you to fall asleep, so make sure you turn everything off and don’t use technology 60-30 minutes before you close your eyes. It’s simple – the less stimulation you have right before bed the easier it will be to fall into a deep rest.
Winding down before bed with a cup of hot milk + a good book is one of the best ways to drift easily to sleep. There are also plenty of foods that help you get a better sleep, such as fatty fish; why not try making something like crunchy dukkah crusted salmon for dinner and see how well you rest afterwards?
There you have it, 5 tips to keep in mind during the holiday season so that you can keep eating well and avoid jeopardising your health goals.