12 ways to have a healthy Christmas

We all like to overindulge over the festive season, but it’s still important to look after your health. We’ve put together 12 ideas to help you keep your health on track without missing out on all the fun.

From staying hydrated to keeping active, these 12 tips of Christmas will help to keep you healthy throughout the festive season and beyond.

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 bay.1

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 also contains hidden calories, which could lead to unwanted weight gain.

Remember your unit allowance: 14 units per week. This is the same for both men and women.

14 units is the equivalent of six 175ml glasses of red wine, or six pints of beer.2



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 flu, 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.

One important vitamin to consider is vitamin D, which our bodies make when they’re exposed to sunlight.

If you think you might be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, speak to your doctor. You may want to take a supplement.3

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 too.4



6. Wash your hands

Washing your hands is an effective way of helping to stop the spread of infection and germs.5

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 have happier, longer lives.6

Fortunately the Christmas period is often a highlight of the social calendar, 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 a number of negative effects on your body and mind. 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 to do so.

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9. Enjoy a healthier Christmas lunch

We tend to overload our plates on Christmas Day, so a healthy Christmas lunch may seem impossible.

Don't worry, there are ways you can make your Christmas dinner healthier.

For example:

  • Avoid adding salt both while cooking and at the table
  • Cook with less oil and fat
  • Pile your plate high with vegetables (including Brussels sprouts, of course) – aim for two thirds of your plate to be veg
  • Make your own cranberry sauce, stuffing or whatever side it is you love – it’s likely this will be healthier than a premade variety
  • Eat slowly and mindfully and really savour what you’re eating
  • Try not to drink too much, and have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have

If you’re not cooking, offer to bring a healthy side dish so you know there will be at least something low calorie and nutritious to eat.

There are countless healthy Christmas recipes out there, you just need to find one you like.

10. Try healthy swaps

Treats can be a dieting downfall, especially over Christmas where there is temptation from mince pies, chocolates and the rest. 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, confectionery for a few squares of dark chocolate or juicy medjool dates, or pigs in blankets for asparagus wrapped in parma ham.

Healthy eating and Christmas are not as incompatible as you might think!

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 pressures.7

Practice gratitude for the things you may take for granted. Or, turn mundane tasks into mindful tasks.

For example, 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:

  • Avoid midweek drinking
  • Stop smoking
  • Move more, perhaps by taking a walk at lunchtime
  • Make an effort to eat your 5 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 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2156587214543143

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