The holiday season can be a time associated with excess – excess food and alcohol. In addition to later nights, reduced exercise and a general decrease in self-care. Make this season a time for good health as well as good times. It’s never been easier to stay on top of your healthy habits whilst still enjoying the festive season. Vytaliving’s handy health guide has been created to support you with food, exercise, sleep and hydration during the holiday season.
Food During the Festive Season
Canapes, limited edition foods, 3 course dinners and leftovers are the theme of the festive season. More often than not, these meals consist of high saturated fat, high sugar and salty snacks, with little nutrient value. That being said, that’s what the festive season is all about. Here are some tips below to choose healthier options over the festive period:
- Try to aim for 3 meals a day. Going long periods without food will encourage you to eat larger quantities and quicker energy foods at the next meal.
- If you know you have a particularly decadent meal later on in the day, focus on having a meal jam-packed with nutrient-dense foods for breakfast or lunch.
- Aim to stick to some resemblance of normality in meals - I.e. 1 plate of food per meal, 3 meals a day, 5 fruits and vegetables a day etc
- If you are eating from a buffet, try to fill your plate with ½ fruit or vegetables, then opt for proteins and carbohydrates in the other half of the plate.
- Although it’s tempting to serve yourself a large plate of food, opt for just a normal serving of food. Wait for 15 mins after you have eaten, then ask yourself if you feel like seconds. Try not to overload your plate or instantly go for seconds as you tend to eat more than you need to feel full.
- Try to eat until you are satisfied, rather than overfull.
- When deciding on a mindful portion of a food, separate your chosen portion from the rest of the box. This will encourage you to mindfully eat your chosen portion rather than scoff the whole box.
- Try not to dwell on a period of overconsumption, every day is a new day. Wipe the slate clean and start with healthy intentions.
- Do not compensate for overconsumption with excess exercise or skipping meals.
- Most importantly, do not deny yourself any type of food, just be mindful of portion size. Try to think of your food choices in terms of ‘health-positive’ properties, rather than calories. This will help you to balance your plate with a number of healthier foods.
Hydration and Alcohol During the Festive Season
It's a time of celebration, it’s a time of coming together over a bottle of wine – or 2. Statistics show that the final quarter of the year holds the highest alcohol sales throughout the year. Here are a few handy tips to allow you to enjoy the festive season whilst respecting your limit:
- Stick to one type of alcohol for the whole evening
- Try to drink slowly. Aim to take sips rather than large gulps of your drink.
- Stay hydrated while you are drinking. Try ordering a water with each alcoholic drink, or alternating an alcoholic drink with water.
- Stick to your own pace of drinking rather than matching others.
- Volunteer to be the designated driver
- Set an intention to how many drinks you are consuming that evening and stick to it.
- Ensure you stick to official measures rather than free pouring. Make sure you consume lots of mixer.
- Finish your drink before topping up.
- You may like to have a mocktail or soft drink option you enjoy as much.
In regards to hydration, water is often thought of the boring choice, however the human body is 60% water so it’s essential to stay hydrated. In addition to many snacks consumed around this time of the year are ultra-salty. Here are some tips for staying hydrated:
- Take breaks between other drinks to have a pint of water
- Get a drink of water with each meal you consume
- Carry a water bottle with you to refill.
- Aim to avoid the thirsty feeling, this means you dehydrated.
- Try adding natural flavouring or fruit slices to water to make it more interesting.
Sleep During the Festive Season
Short days and long nights dominate the winter months. Not to mention, endless parties and get-togethers with loved ones that creep into the early hours of the night. It’s safe to say that sleep often slips down the priority list. However, sleep is incredibly important for restoration and wellbeing. The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of quality unbroken sleep to maintain your health. Here are some tips for better sleep:
- Try not to consume caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours which means only half has metabolised 6 hours after consumption. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it may keep you awake.
- Regardless of what time you go to sleep always aim for the same number of consistent hours sleeping.
- If you are able to, wake naturally using daylight.
- Listen to your bodies sleep cues, try not to ignore tiredness
- Create the perfect environment for sleep – dark and cool room.
- Aim to reduce sugar content close to your bedtime. This can lead to hyperactivity before you sleep.
Exercise During the Festive Season
Lastly, there’s exercise. As the winter months draw in and the weather gets gloomier the motivation to stay active during the holiday season may also dwindle. Made worse by the fact that the festive TV specials are on, there are presents to wrap and you feel glued to the sofa. Remember that exercise is to be enjoyed and shouldn’t be used to counteract eating too much or solely as a way to lose weight. Exercise can be used as a way to raise mood and maintain physical and mental wellbeing. Additionally, exercise doesn’t just look like hours in the gym or getting sweaty in a park run, it simply means moving your body. Here are some tips to get moving:
- Set yourself some clear goals that you would like to achieve with exercise. For example, wanting to walk up the stairs and not be out of puff, walk for 20 mins consecutively, reach 10K steps per day, or maybe something larger such as running your first 5K for charity.
- Find an exercise buddy
- Put on your favourite music and dance around your house.
- Do a deep clean of the house or tidy up the garden
- Find a youtube exercise account that you enjoy
- Keep your exercise routine varied, I.e something for your mental wellbeing, mixed with something physically challenging.
- Get the whole family involved
- Commit to an exercise event later in the year.
Whatever you do, put yourself and your health first this festive season. After all, your health is for life not just for Christmas.