7 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy this Christmas

People enjoy hearty meals and buffets on holidays like Christmas and New Year. During the festive season, how can you stay healthy? 

People often neglect their fitness routines during the holidays because they believe they need more time to exercise. As a consequence, gyms and fitness centres are packed with new members after the holiday season. Remember that you can stay fit and enjoy the holidays at the same time.

Eating together has many benefits

It is far more beneficial to eat together than to eat alone. Psychologists say social interaction is crucial to mental health. 

In addition to being good for your mental health, it is also good for your physical health. This activity also facilitates bonding.

In a group, you can order multiple dishes and eat various foods. Despite its benefits, eating communally with mindfulness is the only way to reap these benefits. 

It is best to approach communal holidays such as Christmas, and New Year with caution, as hosts often put on a large spread of holiday food during such occasions.

Keeping healthy during the holidays

Holiday parties are notorious for weight gain during the festive season due to (generous hosts aside) people getting carried away by the good cheer and overeating holiday food. Over time, we gain weight when we consume a lot of food but do not burn off the excess calories through physical activity.

In no particular order, here are 7 tips recommended by a dietician [1]:

Don’t go for visits on an empty stomach

Before going on a visit, a trip, or a family dinner, it is best to eat something. Since you have already eaten, you won’t be tempted to overeat or overindulge. Likewise, skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day.

Dietitian Lynette Goh at NHG Polyclinics recommends starting the day with a healthy breakfast that includes whole grains, low-fat protein and fruit. To prevent overeating or overindulging in festive treats, avoid going for outings on an empty stomach.

Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Despite the temptation to skip certain meals to compensate for the treats, you consumed the day before, avoid doing so because it will lead to counterproductive results.

Don’t eat until you’re full, eat until you’re no longer hungry

It takes a while for your body to recognise that your stomach is full, so if you eat until you feel full, you may have overeaten.

Make smart food choices

It would help if you were mindful of what you eat. You will stay fuller for longer if you eat foods high in fibre.

In addition, eat salads or vegetable soups before starting the main course as a ‘cheat’. These will fill you up before you hit the mince pie or roast turkey.

Pick your treats wisely. Choose something you can only enjoy during the holiday season or only some year-round [2].

Instead of consuming calories, drink water

To limit your calorie intake, follow a simple rule: Don’t drink calories. A 330 ml glass of water has the same amount of calories as a 330 ml can of soda but without the calories. Consider drinking water instead of juice, soda, or alcoholic drinks.

Goh suggests bringing a water bottle with water and slices of lemon and cucumber to an informal gathering, such as a barbecue. It is an excellent replacement to plain water and can quench your thirst.

It is best to moderate your drinking as alcohol, coke, or other juices will add to your calorie intake [3]. Water can satisfy your appetite, keep you hydrated, and prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘later’ when you have difficulty saying ‘no’

The host often insists that you eat more food when you are visiting. Consider saying ‘later’ instead of ‘no’ if you cannot say ‘no’. By doing this, you seem satisfied, and hopefully your host will remember to encourage you to eat more.

Eat slowly

Lastly, eat slowly while socialising instead of eating. In order to avoid overeating, you should eat slowly to allow your body to register that you have had enough.

Make sure your diet plan is realistic as well. You will eat more if you try to restrain yourself from some foods. Feel free to enjoy the treats you love in small portions.

Provide healthy dishes to encourage healthy eating

You can make things easier for your guests if you serve healthier dishes as the host. The first step to filling up on vegetables is to serve plenty, says Goh. 

Consider wholegrain bread, brown rice and brown rice bee hoon as high-fibre carbohydrates. Additionally, she suggests mixing brown and white rice to make the transition easier. Mixing brown and white rice can help you break the white rice habit.

A dinner party’s main course is usually seafood or meat. If possible, serve more fish, especially oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

When you serve meat, offer lean meats rather than fatty cuts. Remove the skin from poultry before cooking, for example. Avoid deep-frying and instead stir-fry, steam, grill, and boil your food.

Communal eating is about celebrating life; nothing celebrates life more than delicious food promoting health. So stay healthy and stay fit by eating wisely and finding the time to stay physically active during the holidays, and make it a healthy holiday instead of one that causes too much damage to your health and waistline.

[1] https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1457/dig-in-everyone
[2] https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/12-practical-tips-stay-fit-for-christmas.html
[3] https://nhp.com.na/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/b3c-healthbytesdecember2018.pdf

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