The holiday season is fast approaching and while it is a time of fun and celebration our health often takes a back seat as a consequence. But by making your health a priority you can avoid the dreaded Christmas weight-gain and start the New Year without feeling any regrets.

Plan ahead

This time of the year tends to get busy and it’s easy to let good habits slide. Even if there’s plenty of festive eating over the next few weeks, you can still stay on track by making sure you are eating well the rest of the time and staying active. Make this easier by preparing and freezing extra meals and scheduling in your exercise.
Eat mindfully. Eating out and social events usually come along with too much food. The key is to be selective and choose the foods you know you will really enjoy, rather than eating everything that’s available. And eat only until you are satisfied, not until you are over-full!

Make a healthier version

Enjoying the festive fare doesn’t have to mean undoing all your good habits built throughout the year. There are plenty of nutritious tasty options available and many recipes can easily be modified to make them healthier. When eating with friends or family, you can make sure there are some healthy options by offering to take an entrée, salad or dessert. Some healthy nibbles (see below), a fresh salad, a nice loaf of sourdough bread or a bowl of fresh berries are good choices that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Be aware of the nibbles

It’s often not the main meals that are our undoing at this time of the year, but all the extra snacking that comes along with festive celebrations. Many snack foods are high in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugars, so serve up some healthier options or offer to provide them when visiting friends. Good options include unsalted nuts, hummus or salsa dips with vegetable crudités, fruit skewers or a fresh fruit platter.

Don’t overdo the Christmas cheer!

This is a time when many people overindulge when it comes to alcohol. So set yourself a limit, drink slowly and alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks to avoid overindulging.

Stay active

Exercise helps to manage stress and to balance out any extra eating. See our tips for being active over the holidays in the exercise section of Your Health website.

Keep food safe

Christmas is a time to get together with your family but it can also be a danger time for possible food poisoning. Hot weather, an overloaded fridge and cooking for more people than we’re used to all add up to make perfect conditions for food poisoning bacteria.

Get enough sleep

Christmas preparations and social events can eat into our sleep at this time of year. But lack of sleep can increase appetite and hunger, make it hard to get motivated to exercise and can reduce our ability to cope with stress. So plan a few early nights or schedule in some short afternoon naps.

Manage stress

While it should be an enjoyable time of the year, this isn’t the case for everyone. The stress of Christmas shopping, entertaining and managing difficult family relationships can take its toll. Try not to take on too much, schedule in some sleep and rest and take some time out for yourself.