Tips to stay merry and have a healthy diet during Christmas
It's the time of the year when it becomes easy to get swept up in the festive cheer and more difficult than usual to stick to healthy food habits or a healthy diet. Even with the lifestyle changes we have all faced over the past two years due to the pandemic, celebrating the "season to be merry" at home also brings with it an abundance of tasty treats, snacks, and meals.
All it takes is an extra 200 extra calories per day — a piece of cake, a few cookies, or a few warm cups of hot chocolate, to name a few indulgences — for a person to gain a kilogram or two of weight within this period. Now, while that number is very small and doesn’t sound like much, it is a lot easier to put on weight through such food than it is to shed it off later on, as most people have found.
Tips to help you stay healthy
While it's not always possible to escape such tempting offerings or keep ourselves away from unhealthy food options, there are some things that are within our control to eat healthily. A comprehensive wellness plan would also help reduce the strain of having to take care of your health during the festive season.
Here are a few simple tips, strategies, and innovative ideas to help you make healthier food choices during the Christmas season.
Set your "food budget" - You don’t have to eat everything that is available at a Christmas dinner or lunch party. Be judicious and "spend" your calories wisely while eating the dishes that you enjoy.
Take a break before a refill - When we eat too quickly, it can be difficult to ascertain when the stomach is full. This often results in overeating. To avoid this, try taking a short break between the helpings of food. You could talk to others or drink some water. After some time has passed, recheck if you are still hungry. More often than not, you may find that you don't need to eat more to feel full.
Keep your distance from rich foods - Physical distance from food makes it easier to stop yourself from absent-mindedly reaching for food while talking to others. In case you are prone to snacking too much, drinking water or chewing gum can help you stay away from snacks.
Don’t reach the party on an empty stomach - Eating something before attending a party is a good way to manage your appetite. The best pre-party foods bring together complex, slowly digestible carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat. Some examples: a small bowlful of fruits paired with peanut butter, a quick whole-wheat sandwich with chicken, paneer and vegetables.
Avoid drinking on an empty stomach - If you are drinking alcohol, have a glass of water in between drinks. Alcohol stimulates your appetite and reduces your ability to control your food intake, and many drinks also pack a ton of "empty calories" in them.
Dance or walk the calories away - Dancing is a great way to stay active and burn off some calories. If you are with family members, you could take a walk before, after, or in between meals.
Don't forget the vegetables - Fruits and vegetables are your best friends when trying to maintain a healthy diet amidst holiday parties. They are highly nutritious, low on calories, act as great snacks and should also be included in the main meal.
Cook heart-healthy foods - The best way to show your loved ones that you really care about them is to use recipes that use less butter, cream, oil and other such ingredients that are high in saturated fats.
Spread the joy and cheer around - Even though Christmas food is a crucial aspect of celebrating with loved ones, the most important aspect of the season is to spend time with your family and friends. If you are usually a disciplined eater, it is perfectly fine to indulge yourself in seasonal treats and have fun during this time. A healthy diet should add more value to your life, not reduce the joy that you are feeling while celebrating with friends and family.
While maintaining healthy habits during this time of the year is not easy, you don’t have to deprive yourself! The worst way to spend this wonderful time would be to eat boring foods or to become overcome with guilt each time you indulge in treats. Instead, the Christmas health tips above should help you practise strategic eating and cooking. This way, you can have your cake and eat it too - literally! The key is to enjoy everything the season has to offer while making conscious efforts to make adjustments where possible so that you end the year on a high note.
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