While Christmas is known as a season of overindulgence, you shouldn’t use it as permission to go crazy. With some planning and discipline, you can still enjoy the holiday season without sacrificing your health or your waistline. Here are some of our best suggestions for a happier and healthier holiday season.
1: Try not to be a couch potato all-day
We realise that every conceivable Christmas programme will be airing, but there’s no excuse to veg out on the couch all day. Ideally, everyone in the family should go for a walk after dinner to help break down the food. Bring along any recent outdoor presents, such as bicycles, scooters, footballs, or Frisbees, or resort to more time-honoured pastimes.
2: Go easy on the booze
It’s easy to consume a lot of alcohol if you’re holed up inside all season. There’s mulled wine on Christmas Eve, wine with supper, wine with breakfast, Baileys, brandy, and so much more. So, monitor your intake and alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic ones to avoid overindulgence.
3: Don’t Cram Yourself
Some studies have estimated that the average American consumes more than three times the daily calorie requirement for an adult male at Christmas dinner.
This massive meal will not only make you sleepy and bloated for the remainder of the day, but it will also increase your risk of developing digestive issues like indigestion and heartburn. Eat a regular meal and then wait 20 minutes to check if you’re still hungry instead of stuffing yourself silly at Christmas dinner (it takes this long for the brain to register that the stomach is full). You’ll probably decide that you’ve had enough.
4: Fruits, please!
I think it’s safe to say that most of us go through the entire Christmas season on just the satsuma that Santa left under the tree. Simply put, you won’t find it on any typical Christmas dinner table. Now more than ever before is a time to make sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need to keep yourself healthy in the face of late nights, excessive eating, and excessive drinking. Be sure to include enough fresh fruit and vegetables to meet your daily needs on your Christmas shopping list. (No, a cup of mulled wine does not constitute one serving!)
5: Stress Less
“Tis the season to be joyful,” but many of us are far from merry due to holiday stressors including financial strain, time commitments like cooking and cleaning, and unwanted guests like relatives. Maintain a light-hearted and realistic outlook. Do a few overcooked carrots or a dusty mantelpiece truly spell disaster for you? Is it so important to you that Auntie Mary doesn’t approve of the fact that you and your significant other are cohabitating even though you’re not married? You shouldn’t worry about Christmas because it’s just one day out of 365.
6: Think before you eat
It would be somewhat Scrooge-like to propose that you abstain from eating any delicacies at all throughout the Christmas holiday when there are nuts, chocolates, mince pies, and cheese straws wherever you look. But before you blindly eat whatever is in front of you, ask yourself if you desire it or are merely doing it to satisfy your hunger.
7: Reduce portion sizes
Eat slowly and with moderation, and don’t gorge on your favourite meals. There will always be pavlovas, so you shouldn’t devour the whole thing right now. Reduce your drink size if you can. The average volume of an English wine glass has increased from 66 millilitres in the year 1700 to 449 millilitres in the year 2017; this increase has been the most dramatic over the past two decades. There is some data suggesting that if wine glass sizes were standardized, alcohol consumption would drop.
8: Beware of leftovers
Eating leftovers for days after a holiday party might derail a host’s best intentions to eat healthily. Don’t throw out your leftovers; give them away or save them in the freezer for later.
In case we end up overindulging, what then? (As we always do!) Have fun! Try not to let it turn into a whole day or week of bingeing.
There’s no need to eat the entire packet just because you have a couple more biscuits. The mentality that you might as well just give up and eat the whole package because it’s ‘bad’ is what really causes the problems, not the actual number of biscuits consumed. Enjoy the extra biscuits rather than letting a little number lead to an overwhelming quantity.
Don’t think in absolutes…. Being a perfectionist about your diet and fitness routine will only lead to frustration, as it is impossible to eat precisely all the time.
The process of determining which foods are “good” and which are “bad” can be counterproductive to a balanced diet and a healthy weight. Be adaptable. Take care of yourself as best you can.
Gifts that are good for you and your loved ones at Christmas
A present that promotes health is a thoughtful gesture, so why not give it? You should give folks presents that will help them take advantage of the seasonal seafood, summer fruits, and salads that are so readily available now. Or perhaps something that will motivate them to exercise regularly. Here are a handful of our favourite present suggestions.
Healthy food gift ideas for Christmas
Mangos, apricots, berries, and cherries are only some examples of seasonal fruits.
Toasted and mixed nuts with dried fruits like apricots and dates.
spices, dried herbs, and spices, chutneys, relishes tapenades, etc.
Herbal and flavoured teas
Gardening-related presents, such as herb pots, a worm farm, and strawberry or tomato seedlings.
Vinegars with added flavours
Education in the art of healthy cooking
Containers with raw or roasted nuts, without salt.
Acquiring a copy of Healthy Food Guide, a subscription-only magazine
Tools, seedlings, seeds, etc., for the vegetable garden.
Gifts that keep us moving through the holidays
Skipping ropes, boxing gloves, hand weights, yoga mats, and anything else you would need to be in shape
Tennis racquets, swimming goggles, towels, and either athletic shoes or socks
Workouts with a personal trainer, exercise physiologist, or in a gym
Fitness technology, including food and exercise trackers like the Fitbit
Focus on spending quality time with loved ones rather than on the food and drink this holiday season. Don’t waste your indulgences on things you’re not truly excited about. You’d rather eat more seafood and less dessert?
Now last but definitely not least, we have some delicious and nutritious Christmas recipes from Good House Keeping just for you!
Green Beans with Orange and Almond Gremolata
2 lb. green beans
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 c. roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 c. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water, then in batches, cook green beans until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer green beans to the ice water to cool; drain and set aside.
In a small skillet, heat oil, garlic, and rosemary on medium heat until garlic sizzles around the edges and begins to turn golden about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with almonds and orange zest, then parsley.
Serve over warm or room-temperature green beans.
Per serving: 125 calories, 8.5 G fat (1 G saturated), 4 G protein, 270 MG sodium, 11 G carb
Herb Roasted Turkey
1 12- to 14-lb turkey, thawed if frozen
8 sprigs of fresh sage
4 small onions, quartered
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 fresh bay leaves
3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth, if needed
Fresh herbs and clementines, for serving
Heat oven to 375°F. Working on a baking sheet, remove the giblets and neck of the turkey from cavities. Reserve neck and discard giblets. Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry. Stuff half of the onions and 6 sprigs of sage into the main cavity
Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck wing tips underneath the body. Rub turkey with oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt.
Place turkey neck, carrots, celery, bay leaves and remaining onions and sage in a large roasting pan. Place the roasting rack in the pan and put the turkey on top.
Roast turkey until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F, 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours. (Cover the bird loosely with foil if it browns too quickly and add broth to the pan if vegetables begin to scorch.)
Carefully tilt the turkey to empty juices from the cavity into the pan. Transfer the turkey to a carving board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for at least 25 minutes. Reserve the pan and its contents for gravy. Carve turkey and garnish as desired.
Nutritional information (per serving): Each 5-ounce serving is about 255 cal, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 40 g protein, 185 mg sodium, 0 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre
Salad of the Seven Fishes
1/2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons), plus wedges for serving
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. small squid, steamed
8 oz. large cooked shrimp, tails removed
1 lb. mussels, steamed
12 littleneck clams, steamed
6 oz. cooked octopus tentacle (about 1 tentacle)
4 oz. bay scallops (or sea scallops, cut into 1/2-inch pieces), steamed
1 small bulb fennel, very thinly sliced
1/2 small red chile, very thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, very thinly sliced
1/4 c. pitted green olives, sliced
4 oz. cooked lump crabmeat, picked
1/2 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves
In a large bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Whisk in oil.
Thinly slice squid bodies. Cut each shrimp into 3 pieces. Shuck mussels and clams. Cut the octopus tentacles into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer squid, shrimp, mussels, clams, octopus and scallops to a bowl with lemon vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Fold in fennel, chile, celery, olives, crab meat, and parsley. Serve immediately with lemon wedges if desired.
Nutritional Information (per serving): About 340 calories, 11.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 45 g protein, 1,335 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 2 g fibre