Christmas is well and truly in reach, but that doesn’t mean your health goals can’t be! If you’re worried about how to stay on track over the upcoming festive season, you’ve come to the right place. Below are a few of our top tips to try over the holiday period.
Decorate your plate
When filling your plate this Christmas, have the Christmas tree in mind. Put on your favourite carols and challenge your family and friends to ”decorate your plate”, whereby everyone has to fill their plate with as many different colours and types of fruit and vegetables in a way that represents them. When dishing up main meals, try to fill at least half your plate with beautiful vegetables and salads of all kinds, the more the merrier. Vegetables are generally quite low in calories and high in nutrients and fibre, which makes them excellent options for a Christmas feast alongside the other Christmas goodies.
Grab a plate!
We’ve all been confronted with a never-ending grazing board and eaten our way into a Christmas day food coma. If this is a bit too familiar for you, a simple strategy to try out this Christmas is grabbing a plate and filling it with your favourite nibbles. Even if you go back for another serving later, grabbing a plate will help create some mindfullness and you tune into your hunger cues and help prevent continuous grazing and feeling uncomfortably full.
In Australia, things can heat up quickly over Christmas, which is why it is so important to stay hydrated. Some simple tricks to help boost your fluid intake over the next few weeks is to refrigerate your water, infuse it with your favourite fruit/vegetables/herbs and make homemade cold brewed teas.
Throughout the festive season, it can be hard to stick to your regular exercise routine but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to move your body during the holidays. Challenging your family to some backyard cricket or footy, going for a walk on the beach, spring cleaning the house, cycling with a friend, taking up your old favourite sport, swimming or going for a hike are all excellent ways to sneak in exercise over the holiday period.
Go slow on the alcohol
It’s called the silly season for a reason! Whilst increased alcohol intake is common during the silly season, try to maintain some balance during this period. Trying to have alcohol free days on non-event days, taking a set number of drinks to social gatherings and alternating alcohol with water or soda water are some useful strategies to keep the silly season within reason.
Learn to say no and make time for self-care
While the festive season is meant to be a time for rest and relaxation, it can be easy to get caught up in the stresses of making time for all the social events, ticking everyone’s presents off the list and ensuring that everything is perfect on Christmas Day. Sometimes it just seems never ending and we end up feeling like we need a holiday after the holiday! This is where learning to say no and prioritising making time for self-care throughout this period is crucial. Self-care looks different for everyone, but it can involve going for a walk, getting enough sleep, meditating, listening to your favourite music, doing something creative or anything else that makes YOU feel merry!
What if I overindulge?
When we are surrounded by so many beautiful foods, sometimes overindulgence is inevitable and that is okay. Food has such an incredible power to bring people together and plays a big part in helping us celebrate. So, make sure you take the time to be present with your loved ones and enjoy the delicious foods Christmas offers, using the above strategies where you can.
From all the team at The Queensland Centre for Digestive Medicine, we wish you a very safe and happy Christmas.
Blog post written by student Dietitian Suné Joubert.