Surviving the silly season ...
Christmas is fast approaching, which usually goes hand in hand with parties, too much food and wine and the dreaded expanding waistline. But the festive season doesn’t have to mean compromising your health. Here are my top 10 tips for staying healthy over the holidays (without living on kale).
1 One of the most challenging issues at this time of year is the food. We love to eat sugar loaded foods when we celebrate and it can often be hard to avoid. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no problem with enjoying a few naughty treats, but it’s when we over indulge that we experience problems. If you have a social event where you have the opportunity to take a plate, this is your chance to give yourself at least one healthy option. Gone are the days when the only healthy option was some wilted veggie sticks hanging out at the back of the table, this is your chance to be creative, because healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. Some of my favourite (and super easy) finger foods to make are chocolates where I use stevia or honey for sweetness. It’s as simple as finding a good recipe online, pouring the mix into an ice cube tray and sprinkling with crushed nuts and lavender to really wow everyone! Beetroot chocolate cake is another great choice and makes a rich, moist and nutrient rich treat that tastes far naughtier than it is. If chocolate isn’t your thing, perhaps some super easy seed crackers and dip or savoury muffins. The options are endless!
2 Alcohol. I know, you were hoping I was going to slide on past this one. The reality is that it’s the time of year where we overindulge and end up consuming an enormous amount of liquid calories and eating super greasy high carb foods as a result. So, instead of sugary wine or spirits, why not opt for a lower sugar option such as vodka, lime and soda. Not only is it lower in sugar and calories, but it’s also super refreshing, making it perfect for this steamy weather.
3 Kick the soft drinks. I know, I know. Again with the sugar! I hate to keep harping on about it, but sugar really is one of the best things you can reduce in your diet. Soft drinks are always a favourite, though there are plenty of healthier alternatives. One option is to dilute them a little with soda water, still having that delightful fizz with only half the guilt. Ever considered making your own? A favourite in our house is to crush a generous amount of fresh mint leaves and raspberries (fresh or frozen) in a jug and fill with soda water. If it’s for the adults, some vodka is perfect in this.
4 Stay hydrated. This is so simple, but it’s something we so often forget. In this sub-tropical climate, we really should be drinking around 2L of water a day, but what we often forget is that that’s just the start!!! For every standard drink of alcohol or caffeine we need to drink a glass of water just to break even due to their diuretic and dehydrating effects. So remember to alternate your alcohol with water. Not only will this keep you hydrated, but your body will thank you in the morning.
5 Breathe. Life is already stressful enough as it is without the added pressure of the holidays. We often race from one event to the next, squeezing in gift shopping, end of year events for the kids where we can and wondering how we are going to get all our usual household chores done as well. It’s super important to schedule some time in for yourself to just breathe. Go get your nails done, spend some time in the garden, take a walk or just lock yourself in the bathroom for 15 minutes without the kids, but make sure you look after yourself by ensuring your stress bucket doesn’t fill to tipping point. No-one wants to turn into a Grinch!
6 Moderation. In the western world, celebrations are often synonymous with food. Or maybe it’s only my mum who uses any excuse to celebrate and feed us. And feed us. And feed us. While I love delicious food as much as the next girl, I often have to remind myself that the first bite tastes the same as the last. I don’t need that extra piece of cake, because it’s not any different to the first piece I had.
7 Rest. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep during the party season. I must admit that I’m sometimes guilty of burning the candle at both ends because I can’t bear the thought of missing out on any of the action. But remember, there will always be more fun to be had, but you can’t catch up on lost sleep. I now set a reminder in my phone to get ready for bed so that I don’t get distracted by all the things I have to do – they’ll still be there tomorrow.
8 Don’t over spend. There is so much pressure to buy the right gifts, especially if you’re a parent. I mean, don’t you know that your child is the ONLY child in the whole, entire world who doesn’t have the latest…… Believe it or not, most of us grew up without always having the latest of everything and lived to tell the tale. One of the biggest stressors in the western world is money, especially when you grow up and realise the bills don’t stop just because your credit cards are maxed out. This kind of stress can cause some pretty serious mental anguish and good mental health is so important to nurture. Not only that, but mental health often manifests physically as well. So, buy the best presents you can afford, without going into debt. Gifts from the heart are usually the most cherished.
9 Be kind to yourself. If you eat too much, lose your temper, break Grandma’s favourite serving dish at Christmas lunch, just remember that it doesn’t matter. Not really, not in the scheme of things. Loving yourself and being kind when things go pear shaped or didn’t go exactly as planned is a tough lesson, but one worth mastering. We all make mistakes and accidents happen, just stop, breathe and remind yourself that you can start afresh tomorrow.
10 Get outside. The sun has copped a bit of a bad rap over the past few decades, and it’s easy to forget just how essential it is to our health and well being. Vitamin D has been proven to help rejuvenate us and enable us to more effectively manage stress. Getting 15 minutes before 9am or after 3pm will help get you through the Christmas period with a little less stress than usual. AND IT’S FREE!!! Grounding is another great way to help revitalise yourself. When the kids are screaming from too much sugar, your family is fighting, you’re flustered from having a million things to do and no-one to help or you simply just need a few moments to collect yourself, head outside. Kick your shoes off, take a few deep breaths and wriggle your feet in the grass or dirt. And smile, because next year you get to do it all over again.
Peace, love and health,