Whilst we are all for indulging a little over Christmas, it can be easy to take that too far and you end up starting the new year with 10 extra lbs and you feel like you have to do some crazy detox (you don’t). Here are our tips for a healthy Christmas, whilst still indulging a little too.
If you want to be kept up to date on my new healthy and delicious recipes like this, then please subscribe to the blog mailing list (it takes 30 seconds) and you will get sent the new recipes straight to your inbox. Your email address won’t be passed on to anyone and you will never be spammed. Click here to sign up
It can be so tempting to eat everything within sight over Christmas and New Year – we have all been there. People bake more; there are parties and meals out, buffets and lots of alcohol. You will be surrounded by your favourite things to eat and drink and there is no reason why you shouldn’t treat yourself, we definitely will be! But, at the same time, you probably don’t want to start the New Year feeling feeling bloated and unhealthy. Follow the tips below and you should still be able to enjoy yourself, eat and drink the things you like (in moderation) and not end up feeling like crap because of it.
Most importantly, Christmas is a time to spend with the people you love and enjoying yourself.
1) Portion Control
I personally think this is the most important one. We don’t deny ourselves anything over Christmas. We work really hard all year round and whilst we do still treat ourselves throughout the year, it isn’t as much as we do at Christmas (those mince pies always seem to find us). But, for a few days over Christmas, we let ourselves have what we are craving, but we don’t let ourselves have loads of it. If we are craving a whole chocolate cake, we are not going to eat all of it, but we will allow ourselves a slice. I personally am so looking forward to a traditional roast dinner on Christmas day, but it is just like any other meal. I don’t need to have 2 portions worth on my plate and then go back for seconds. Your stomach is not designed to hold that much food, and you know half an hour later when you have managed to roll yourself onto the sofa, you are going to regret that 10th roast potato. Keeping an eye on your portions can mean you don’t need to deprive yourself of anything, but you are not going over the top either.
2) Don’t skip your workouts
Christmas Day is just one day, not 4 weeks. That means that you don’t need to stop your usual healthy eating and exercise routine as soon as you break the advent calendar out. Try, as much as you can, to still eat a healthy breakfast and schedule in your workouts. You might not feel like it, or have time, on Christmas Day to work out, but whilst I am not saying you should head to the gym (are they even open?), a nice walk after your massive dinner will do wonders. Not only will you burn a few calories (a potatoes worth maybe), it will help aid digestion and build up an appetite for dessert. Another great way to get in some exercise on Christmas Day is playing. If you have kids and they got a new toy, burn some energy playing with them. Did you get a new game on the Wii or Xbox? If it is something like Just Dance, get the whole family involved, burn some calories and have some fun. Perhaps wait until dinner has done digesting first. If you have snow this Christmas, then go outside and have a snowball fight, or roll around in the snow. You don’t need to take an hour out of your day to exercise, just 20 minutes, and make it a fun activity. But the most important thing, is sticking to your workouts on all the days surrounding Christmas Day. Write them down in your diary so you can’t forget. If you really want to offset the extra Christmas calories, add an extra 10 minutes of cardio onto your daily routine.
3) Keep track
I’m not suggesting you should be attached to a notepad and obsess over everything that you are eating and their calories (that’s not good at anytime), but it is a good idea to keep a mental note of roughly how many calories you are consuming over Christmas. I personally don’t advise writing everything down, as in my experience, that can lead to problems with obsessing over what you eat. But, I do still think it is a good idea to be generally aware of the amount you are eating, rather than the number of calories. Most of us are going to go over our daily allowance, that is a given, but it is so easy to go WAY over without even realising. It might only seem like 3 truffles, a couple of biscuits, a handful of crisps, a mince pie and a box of chocolates is a light snack at Christmas time, but you could have 2 meals for that same calories as you would have consumed. Being aware of just how much you are eating might make you think twice about opening that second box of chocolates or eating all of the left over roast potatoes (can you tell we are roast potato obsessed?), just because they are they. Also, I find it helpful to not have food just lying around. If it is there, I will eat it.
4) Don’t go anywhere hungry
Still have Christmas shopping to do? Pack a small bag of nuts and seeds and a piece of fruit in your bag when you go shopping, or have a small snack before you go – these Egg Muffins are ideal for a protein packed snack. This will stop you going to the food court and eating something overpriced and most likely not very nice. Also, don’t do your Christmas food shopping when you are hungry. This is a good tip when doing your usual weekly shop, but it is especially important when doing the big Christmas food shop, as there will be as much temptation as it is. All the brightly coloured packages and festive smells will lead you to fill up 2 trolleys full of stuff you don’t really need. After all, Christmas dinner is just a big roast dinner.
Have lots of Christmas parties to go to? Well, aren’t you popular!! If you know there is going to be a huge and calorific buffet when you get there, try to eat before you go. That way you won’t want to eat everything you see and you can just have a few canapés. Or, offer to take something to contribute to the food table, that way you know there is something healthy there that you can fill up on.
5) Eat Slowly
Again, good advice generally, but especially important at Christmas when there is so much food around. Chewing slowly will not only allow you to savour every bite of that delicious meal you have spent hours cooking, but it will also allow your brain time to catch up and register when you are actually full, instead of you continuing to eat for 30 minutes after that point, until you feel ill.
6) Drink sensibly
Mulled wine, Baileys, sugary cocktails and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. Some of mine, and I’m sure yours, favourite festive drinks. Drinks like these are packed with calories, but your brain doesn’t really register them, as you are drinking them. This can lead you to easily have your daily calorie allowance just from drinks. Your best bet is to either limit your drink intake, or make better choices (even better, do both). If you are really craving that creamy Baileys, then have it, but just one and make your other drinks something like vodka and soda. Remember to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have. Drinking too much can mean you make some less than healthy food choices, so try keeping it to a minimum. Take a look at our tips for healthier drinking.
If hot chocolate is your festive drink of choice, choosing skimmed milk and skipping the whipped cream (or using low fat) means you could have a small bit of cake instead.
7) Plan Ahead
If you know what you are going to be eating over the Christmas period, then it is easier to make the right choices. Obviously this is going to be difficult sometimes, as you will most likely be eating at someone else’s house at some point. When you know you are going to be at home, plan your meals, otherwise it will be too easy to just grab the leftover party food or reach for the chocolates and class it a meal. Planning ahead will also mean you know when there is going to be extra temptation and you can compensate by working out a little extra or avoid that mince pie you were thinking of having straight after breakfast.
8) Make the most of the super foods that you will be surrounded by over Christmas
The main one will be turkey. It is a healthy protein source, it is full of vitamins and you only need to eat a little bit of it to feel full. And what is Turkey’s best friend? Cranberries of course! Not only the perfect partner to your turkey, but they are full of antioxidants and they lower bad cholesterol. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are heavily featured in festive food. Make the most of them. Vegetables like brussel sprouts, carrots and parsnips feature heavily in Christmas dinners too, so fill your plate with those.
9) Increase Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake
We are firm believers that if you can sneak some extra fruit and vegetables in to your diet, then you will be a little bit healthier with all those extra vitamins, and they will keep you fuller for longer. Whilst our meals are usually pretty indulgent around Christmas time, we try to keep our snacks healthy and fruit and vegetable packed. Christmas time is so busy, so we don’t have a lot of time, so juices like these from Coldpress Juices come in very handy for a vitamin boost on the run. Have one of these at the start of the day, and you know that no matter what you eat for the rest of the day, at least you have had some goodness.
In 2006, 2006, Andrew, the founder of Coldpress Juices, and Bradley, their technical whizz, transformed the Australian juice market by pioneering cold pressed technology that could naturally retain more taste, more nutrients and vitamins than pasteurised juices before introducing their distinctive hexagonal bottles to the UK in 2011. They ‘cold press’ their fruit and vegetables without any heat. Which means their juices and smoothies preserve substantially more of the taste and essential nutrients lost in traditional pasteurisation whilst also preserving their freshness for an amazing 6-months!
The Coldpress Juices bottles don’t just look pretty, they serve a purpose. In reality, the hexagon, being Mother Nature’s most resilient shape, provides their bottles with the strength they need to withstand the rigours of their high pressure process.
We loved the Fruity Greens juice, as it gave us a nice burst of energy in the morning, but our favourite by far was the Banana Raw Cacao Almond Drink – it was like a milkshake and tasted far more indulgent than it actually is. They have such a wide range of drinks available, from green juices, to smoothies, to single fruit varieties. You can pick them up in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Co-Op. Stock your fridge with these, and make sure you are getting plenty of vitamins over the festive season. The juices featured are only available at Waitrose and Ocado.
10) Keep lots of healthy stuff round the house
Just because there are treats on every aisle of the supermarket, doesn’t mean you have to replace your usual healthy foods with giant cookies and sausage rolls. Still keep a bowl of fruit around and try to stick to snacking on nuts and seeds. Even better, up your fruit and vegetable intake over the festive period.
11) Be Realistic
It is important to accept that you are most likely going to be treating yourself a little more than usual, and if you are trying to lose weight, it might not happen the week over Christmas. But then again, it might. Some of you might be staying completely on track over Christmas. For most, I think it is important to just focus on maintaining. If your goal is usually to lose 2lbs a week, try setting new goals for the week over Christmas, like extra fruit and veg, or 20 minutes extra cardio.
If you are going to someone else’s house for a dinner party, or Christmas dinner, offer to take a dish with you. That way, you know what is in it, and you can make some healthier changes to it too. Take a look at these healthy desserts: http://www.hungryhealthyhappy.com/desserts/
13) Don’t let it get you down
I think this one is really important too. So what, you ate a giant bit of cake – you are only human. Enjoy the cake and move on and make different choices for the rest of the day if you feel you need to. You can also do some extra cardio the next day. Food is there to be enjoyed, in moderation, not to feel guilty about.
14) Make some healthy substitutions
We are all about adapting recipes to make them healthier. That way we can enjoy some of our favourite unhealthy meals, but lighter versions of them. My favourite substitutes are using dates blended with water as a substitute for sugar in baking and using Greek yoghurt in replace of fats in baking and in replace of cream in other recipes. You really can’t taste the difference, but there is a huge difference in calories.
What are your healthy Christmas tips? Leave a comment below!
Let’s stay in touch!
**This recipe was commissioned by Cold Press Juices, however, all opinions are my own**