12 ways to have a healthy Christmas

While we all like to indulge over the festive season, it’s also important to stay as healthy as you can. These 12 tips will help you enjoy your healthiest Christmas yet.

1. Keep moving

As the days get colder, gloomier and wetter, finding the motivation to work out can be a struggle. However, it’s a good idea to stay active as this will not only help you avoid weight gain but can also help boost your immune system and keep the winter blues at bay1.

Even if you don’t feel like hitting the gym, there are plenty of ways you can keep moving. Try a fitness DVD, YouTube workout, walk to work or take a brisk lap around the block during your lunch break.

2. Watch your alcohol intake

While it’s fine if you want to enjoy a drink, be careful how much you consume. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to serious health problems, including liver disease.

Alcohol contains hidden calories, which could lead to unwanted weight gain. Remember your unit allowance: 14 units per week for men and women – equivalent to six 175ml glasses of wine, or six pints of beer2.

 

3. Try winter sports

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sports. You can still practice most sports at indoors facilities, or you may even want to try winter sports. Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating are all excellent workouts, and a lot of fun.

4. Take your vitamins

Winter is often the worst time of year for catching colds and flus, so your immune system may need a helping hand. Taking a daily multivitamin can be a good idea this time of year, as it could help fend off the many viruses and germs you’re likely to encounter.

Another supplement you should consider is vitamin D. The Department of Health now recommends that everybody takes a daily vitamin D 10mcg supplement during the winter months3. The recommendations are higher for babies, children and those rarely exposed to the sun, so you may want to talk with your GP or a dietician.

water hydration

5. Stay hydrated

It’s generally recommended we should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, and you may even find that you need a little more during the winter months. If you don’t enjoy plain water, lower fat milks, lower sugar and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, count too4

6. Wash your hands

Washing your hands is an effective way of helping to stop the spread of infection and germs5. Constantly washing your hands isn’t practical, so try to avoid touching surfaces at public places, such as on public transport and shopping areas, and carry a hand sanitiser.

7. Be social

Research has found that people with active social lives are living happier, longer lives6. Fortunately the Christmas period is often one of the highlights for social calendars, with office parties and family gatherings commonplace.

Make the effort to get out as much as you can, no matter how miserable the weather is. It’s a great time to reconnect or catch up with friends and family, and the chances are you’ll feel better.

8. Get plenty of sleep

With so much going on at this busy time of year, you may find you’re not getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep has been linked to a weakened immune system7, so it pays to rest. Figure out what’s keeping you awake, and aim for eight hours a night, even if you have to go to bed earlier.

9. Enjoy a healthier Christmas lunch

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We tend to overload our plates on Christmas Day, so a healthy Christmas lunch may seem impossible. But there are ways you can make your Christmas meal healthier.

Avoid adding salt, cook with low calorie spray oil and make the majority of your plate up of a variety of vegetables to leave less room for meats and higher calorie sides. Finally, watch your alcohol intake and try to have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.

10. Try healthy swaps

Treats can be a dieting downfall, especially over Christmas where there is temptation from mince pies and chocolates. The key is to keep enjoying yourself without feeling deprived.

Try making some simple swaps such as substituting crisps for a handful of unsalted nuts, confectionary for a few squares of dark chocolate or juicy medjool dates, or pigs in blankets for asparagus wrapped in parma ham.

11. Appreciate the down time

Christmas family

If you tend to find Christmas stressful, you may find it helpful to try some mindful practices over the festive period.

Mindfulness means to pay attention and observe yourself and your environment without criticism.

Studies have shown that regular practice can help to lower anxiety and help us deal with day-to-day pressures8. Practice gratitude for the things you may take for granted.

Or turn mundane tasks into mindful tasks, e.g. when preparing food, take in the smells, tastes and textures of what you’re putting together.

12. Set a new health goal

Stay motivated and on track by setting a health goal. Starting now will help you start the new year feeling in control. Ideas include:

  1. Avoid midweek drinking
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Moving more, such as taking a walk at lunchtime
  4. Making an effort to eat your five-a-day

If you are you concerned about your health, you may want to consider a Health Assessment at BMI Healthcare. A health assessment helps to detect diseases and health issues in their early stages, and provides you with solutions and strategies on how to maintain good health and improve any health difficulties you’re facing.

To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.


Sources

1 https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/pages/winterexercise.aspx
2 https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/
3 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-new-advice-on-vitamin-d
4 https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-eatwell-guide.aspx
5 http://www.bmj.com/content/339/bmj.b3675
6 http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/pag-pag0000072.pdf
7 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
8 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2156587214543143

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