Christmas is all about opulence. We have huge meals that would normally be enough to feed a small family for a week. Then, there is the wine and we cannot forget the chocolates either. Although many of us solemnly promise to lose weight after Christmas (it is indeed one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions), we know deep down inside that what we are doing isn’t healthy. We shouldn’t overeat during a one week period simply because we know we have the willpower to diet afterwards, and not in the least because many of us will find we don’t actually have that willpower.
However, Christmas is a time of fun, happiness and cheer and the last thing we want to do is eat grilled chicken with rice and a celery stick. So is there any way to enjoy a Christmas meal but still be healthy? Hopefully, the following hints and tips will show you how you can enjoy the holiday season without damaging your health.
Opt for Bird
Many people have a traditional roast beef for their Christmas dinner. However, opting for a bird is actually a much better option.
Whatever bird you choose to cook—be that duck, chicken, goose or turkey—they all are rich in protein and fat-soluble vitamins, which are essential for muscle repair and neuron function.
The best bird to choose is turkey, as this is the leanest of all. However, since Christmas and Thanksgiving are pretty close together, you may not be in the mood for another turkey. Chicken would be the second best option, but if you want something really different for the festive season, select goose or duck. Do be careful, however, since duck has incredibly fatty skin, more so than any other type of bird. So don’t forget to avoid eating the duck’s skin.
Also, you don’t have to avoid stuffing your bird. Stuffing, for many, is the essence of a Christmas meal and they worry that they cannot have any if they want to remain healthy. But if you simply remove some of the sausage meat and replace it with cranberries, you will find that the stuffing is perfectly acceptable for a healthy meal.
Get Your Meal Times Right
The second important element is that you stick to a regular eating rhythm at Christmas. A lot of people eat nothing all day long so that they can gorge on a huge meal in the evening. This is something you should absolutely avoid. First of all, it is never healthy to do so anyway. Secondly, although you may feel as if you ate nothing all day, it is likely that you actually turned to nibbles and snacks regularly, and these all add up when it comes to calories. Indeed, by having various snacks throughout the day, you will probably have consumed more calories than if you had simply had breakfast and lunch. Remember, as well, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so don’t skip it, no matter what.
Eat a healthy breakfast on Christmas morning. Include at least one fruit or vegetable and some protein such as eggs or nuts. This will help stave off hunger and prevent overeating high-calorie snacks while waiting for the big lunch or dinner to be served.
If you must snack during the day, try to turn to healthy snacks like carrot sticks, fruits or nuts. And do make sure that you have plenty of healthy side dishes with your actual meal as well.
What About Dessert?
Christmas will always be a time of indulgence and fun, and it simply wouldn’t be complete without a nice dessert. Luckily, you can eat a dessert as well. There are a number of highly traditional desserts during the season, including the Christmas pudding. Interestingly, this pudding may not be as unhealthy as you may have thought. It is actually filled with potassium, fiber, magnesium and calcium, all essential elements for a healthy lifestyle. What matters is that you have a small portion, rather than half the Christmas pudding.
Another very important point is that you stay active during Christmas day. You will be forgiven for not going to the gym for one day, but do try to not simply sit on the couch all day long either. Generally, the person who is doing the cooking will also do a lot of running around, so you may want to volunteer for some time in the kitchen yourself. However, if you are barred from the kitchen by your own personal head chef, try to think of some other things that you can do that keep you active and mobile. Games are always a good idea, of course. Try to use games that include movement, such as charades. If you are lucky enough to have a white Christmas, then go out and have a snowball fight or build a snowman. There are plenty of things to do that are fun, active and very festive during this season.
Make sure that you move during the day, and also after your Christmas meal. Although it may be your tradition to sit on the couch after your meal and have a nap, it would actually be better if you first did something active. This will help you to digest your food properly so that you don’t start to use the calories to build fat storage rather than use some of them for energy. You can always have a nap later.
Remember that Christmas is supposed to be fun, but you also want to make sure that you don’t have any regrets about Christmas several days later. So, have fun, but be healthy. Eat your breakfast, graze on healthy snacks, boil rather than roast your vegetables and put them on your plate first, stay active and have small portions of dessert. Try to be mindful about how you eat. You don’t really need that second serving of mashed potato if you have already finished your plate. It is all too easy to keep grazing on leftovers, so do try to restrain yourself a little bit.
Remember to share this article with all your loved ones so that they can too enjoy this beautiful time healthily.
Together we can make this world a happier, healthier world!