How to enjoy Christmas and stay healthy this festive season

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The festive season is here and with it brings family, friends, tasty food and delicious drinks. As we enter this indulgent season consider these five tips to help your Christmas to be festive, fun AND healthy!

Listen to your appetite
With so many yummy foods available at Christmas it can be difficult to say no. Take a few moments to identify if you feel true physical hunger. This will allow you to understand whether your body needs food or if you are eating for the sake of food tasting nice. Tuning into your appetite can also help to decide how much to serve on your plate; small appetite = small amount of food on your plate.
Limiting eating when you are not hungry can be useful particularly if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight.

Build an appetite between meals by being active
Find an activity to enjoy with your family and friends that involves moving or find a few moments to yourself to be active.
Play a game of cricket or tennis with your family, challenge your sibling to a race or take a walk around the neighbourhood, beach or park by yourself to get away from the Christmas chaos. Being active will make you feel less sluggish and limit the amount of time you are tempted to eat more treats.

Limit second helpings at the dining table
Before reaching out for a second serve of your mother or aunt’s famous dish at Christmas lunch, take some time to allow the first serve of food to fill your stomach. It takes approximately 20 minutes before our brain recognises that we have had enough food and if we have a second helping before this, it could leave you bloated, tired and (more importantly) have less room in your stomach for the next course!

Track how many alcoholic or non-alcoholic sugary drinks you have
Alcohol and sugary drinks provide a lot of empty calories. Empty calories are defined as energy from food or drink that provides no nutritional benefit. If we consume too many calories (note: calories is a measure of energy) our body will store this extra energy as weight!

Did you know that for one standard drink (e.g. 285 ml of beer, 100 ml of wine or 30 ml spirits) or one small glass (250 mL) of soft drink, it takes 15 minutes of brisk walking, 16 minutes of swimming or 10 minutes on a rowing machine to use up this extra energy?

P.S Don’t forget to include your fruit juice into your count for sugary drinks!

Consider the number of days that you celebrate Christmas
Do your Christmas celebrations involving treats extending their way through the entire month of December and then into January? Consider keeping one or two days for you to indulge over Christmas and then get back on track with your healthy eating for the rest of the month. This can allow the time for you to enjoy all of your favourite foods but also minimise the impact on your health from eating “sometimes foods” regularly.