Oh hey Christmas, how did you sneak up so quick? Instead of asking Santa for a get-fit-quick magic pill (because let’s be honest, they don’t exist), I’m here to give you some tips and strategies you can implement to stay healthy over the holidays, and still enjoy the season! And what bigger tips are there than navigating holiday parties the healthy way?
Here in Australia, it’s summer time! The days are longer, the sun is shining, it’s warmer and everyone is finding an excuse to be out and about. In the chilly northern hemisphere, the ice is coating your windshield and it’s getting colder and darker by the day, so it’s a great time to have friends over and enjoy the warming comfort foods and company.
No matter which side of the world you are, everyone is in the party spirit!
Work Christmas parties. BBQs at friends. Just because parties. Christmas Lunch. New Years Eve parties. It can feel like you have a party every weekend and food and alcohol is always on offer.
There’s no need to turn down invitations and miss out on the fun if you’re focussed on your health and fitness. All you need to do is make some minor tweaks so that you can enjoy the festivities while keeping your goals on track.
Navigating the cocktails and canapés function
The classic cocktail and canapés function is a staple of any holiday season. With all of those little morsels being paraded around and glasses being topped up, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re eating and drinking.
- Eat a meal before attending. Sounds counter intuitive but, canapés are small and often rich in flavour. Their petite size leads to overindulgence; because “what if the waiter doesn’t come around to you anymore?!?” If you’ve eaten beforehand you’re not ravenous and trying to get as many canapés as possible, you can just pick a couple and enjoy them.
- Don’t stand near the kitchen. The waiters enter and exit the kitchen there, so if you’re standing next to or near the kitchen you will always be offered the food first.
- Limit your drinks – pick a number and stick to it (1-3 is a good ballpark). Especially if it’s a work function. You want to have fun with your work fam, but no one wants to turn up to work the next day with a hangover or recall how Cheryl from Accounting had to help you find your shoes (good on you Cheryl).
- Keep hydrated. Whether it’s a hot summer afternoon or a freezing cold evening, it’s important to keep your H2O up. Drink lots of filtered water through the day and make at least every other drink a water.
Staying social at your friends BBQ/party
Friends are the family you choose, so no one wants to skip a BBQ with your besties! The good thing about a party at a friends house, is that you can BYO drinks and snacks. This way you can bring your fave festive goodies to enjoy and share with your pals.
- Cut up vegetable sticks to have with the dips.
- Enjoy a little bit of cheese, but don’t eat the whole wheel. It’s for everyone 😉
- Say no to the chips and deep fried options and choose the tastier fresh snacks.
- Bake your own! Rather than going for store bought, enjoy some festive baking and make your own treats (we have some fab recipes here on MNB). It’s more fun and you can select tasty but nutritious ingredients.
- Create a conversation a few steps away from the food so you’re not nibbling away without realising.
- Use the one alcoholic drink to two waters ratio. It can be easy to drink a lot at BBQs because alcohol is always on offer and your glass is always in your hand. Sub in some water 👍
- Become the Tom Cruise of mocktails! You don’t need booze to make a delicious beverage. Show your mad skills and shake up some mocktails to share.
- If you’re the host, check out how to throw an amazing garden party here
Christmas lunch or dinner
Yay! It’s Christmas!!! Christmas lunch or dinner is my favourite of the whole year. It’s a time to relax, kick back and enjoy being with your loved ones. Don’t overthink it today, just have fun but make sure you’re giving your body a little love too.
- Don’t elect yourself as the official taste tester and sample food from every dish. Fill your plate with a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat like you would at any other meal.
- Crowd your plate with salad and vegetables.
- If you need to go to multiple Christmas meals on the same day, reduce your portions a little so you can enjoy some food from each. This way you get the best of everything!
- Let gravity help you digest. After lunch go for a very light, slow paced walk around the block to help things move along. A family walk at Christmas is a great tradition. It’s nice to get a bit of fresh air, enjoy the day, have a little relaxed exercise and do something together. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, try a game of cricket or football.
The holidays are such a wonderful time of year, so most importantly remember too relax a little bit over this time. One day of overindulging isn’t going to greatly impact your health, just pick it up the next day and appreciate how lucky we all are to have such amazing fresh food available.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Jessica Worth is a registered nutritionist who is passionate about helping women achieve their health goals. Determined to break down the basics of nutrition and make food fun again.