Staying Healthy at Christmas

Many of us make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier or exercise more, and as the first months of the year roll by we become more and more exasperated that we’ve been unable to stick to our new resolution. However, if you look at how you spent the last few months of the previous year it is little wonder that you’ve been unable to stick to your new healthy living transformation.

Therefore, to help you start the New Year with a healthier outlook, and make sure you have all of the energy and good health you need to celebrate this Christmas, follow these few simple tips to stay healthy this Christmas and feel better all year.

Healthy Christmas Food

In the lead up to Christmas and during the celebration there will be no end to the delicious dishes to enjoy, but over indulgence in these festive foods is going to mar the enjoyment of the tastes of the foods, with indigestion, bloating and general sluggishness and lack of energy from too much sugar and too many rich ingredients.

Therefore, remember to enjoy your Christmas foods in moderation, not only for the sake of your digestion later, but also spare a thought for the sheer volume of parties and therefore foods in which you be encouraged to partake – even more opportunities for over indulgence and weight gain. So while it is not a big deal to enjoy a Christmas meal or Christmas party fare, it all adds up as you go to party after party so control your portion sizes.

To balance out all of the not so healthy Christmas food you’re going to be eating, be sure to include plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains in your meals. If you want to make sure you are getting enough nutrients to keep your body healthy and help with digestion, take food supplements so you know you are getting your recommended dietary intake. Also try and have a snack before you go to a party, even if there will be food provided, this will help you avoid filling up on unhealthy party foods.

Chewing gum has been linked to lowered levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Some experts also claim that stress can cause inflammation of your gastrointestinal track, so chewing gum could also help you deal with the stresses of the season in a healthier way.

Healthy Christmas Drinks

There will be plenty of wine, spirits and eggnog on hand over Christmas, but to stay healthy remember to drink plenty of water. This will keep you hydrated and help you space out your drinks if you alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Also remember not to drink on an empty stomach as the effects of the alcohol will be greater, and you will feel very unhealthy the next morning.

While you may feel like you need several strong cups of coffee to fuel you for all the tasks you need to do during the Christmas celebrations, substitute in a cup of tea where you can. Tea contains theanine which has a soothing effect on your brain, and when you reduce your stress levels you boost your immunity and keep yourself healthier. Dandelion tea can also help to detoxify your liver after a big night.

Christmas Activity and Inactivity

Don’t neglect your regular exercise routine in the rush of Christmas planning and partying. When you get into exercise you will feel better and have more energy, and just think of all the toxins you are sweating out. Even if you just get outside for a walk, getting fresh air will naturally oxygenate your brain and energise your body. The sunlight will also help to lighten your mood and reduce your stress levels. Plus, according to a study by the Appalachian State University in North Carolina, women who walk 30-40 minutes five times a week are half as likely to catch a cold, compared to those who don’t exercise.

The Christmas holidays should also be just that – holidays. Therefore, make time to relax alone or with your immediate family at home. As relaxing as dinner with friends or drinks with your brother, his kids and his wife will be, don’t underestimate the time and effort it takes to get ready and out of the house. Make sure you take some time every day to practice relaxed breathing and meditate and centre yourself in your own way, whether that is with a bath, a cup of tea on the deck or a walk alone on the beach.

Often taking time for yourself at Christmas can mean you need to start some Christmas traditions of your own. Instead of feeling obligated to make it to Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast, midnight mass, the Boxing Day BBQ or any number of other traditions which have been created over the years, take the time to think about how you want to spend Christmas with the people you love. This also means letting go of old family arguments, judgements or competitions and really savouring the season.

Also try and be as organised as you can at Christmas time so that you can get all of your shopping done – online if possible to avoid the stores – finish your baking and write your Christmas cards so that you’re not rushed at the last minute and can really enjoy the celebrations.

You’ll also need to make sure you get enough sleep around Christmas time to stay healthy. You should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, so this may mean you have to turn down a party invitation or two. Instead, plan a night in and watch a DVD, or have an at home spa experience with a bath an give yourself a facial and a manicure – then you’ll be sure to look fresh faced and fabulous for the next party. Or, make time for naps during the day or schedule sleep ins so you truly have a chance to rest and recharge.

Alban has contributed several articles on how to stay healthy. When he is not writing, Alban reviews loans at Personal Loan Finder