December 4, 2022
I really love Christmas time, the parties, the food, seeing friends and family, but like most people it can often feel stressful managing all the extra stuff on top of an already busy life. I spend a lot of time talking to businesses about how their staff can manage their work/life balance and how to make healthier choices and I find that this is even more important to consider at Christmas. So here’s my guide to making it through the festive season happy and healthily.
As anyone who has heard me talk will know I am a big believer in being prepared and planning ahead. Everything feels more manageable when you know what you have to do. Our workload doesn’t reduce just because it’s the holidays, yet with work Christmas parties, nativity shows to attend and Christmas shopping to do it’s really important to manage your time properly. Make a to-do list with all the important things that need to be done before 25th December and try to get at least one thing on your list done each day. I pin my list on the fridge and find it so satisfying to see the list getting shorter. It’s a bit like a reverse advent calendar! It’s also really important if you are taking time off that everyone in your workplace knows when you are away and that you have arranged appropriate cover, this way you can properly relax and enjoy your time off; no one wants to be checking emails on Christmas day!
People always tell me that they find their exercise routine slips in December. It can be hard to get up for that morning spin class the day after your work drinks, but you will definitely find that getting some form of exercise over the month will help raise your energy levels and help you sleep better. Again it’s all about getting organised. Check out when there’s a rain-free day forecast and schedule in a run, or rather than meeting a friend in the bar straight from work why not go to a class together and then go for dinner after, or meet in the morning for a walk. You will enjoy those mince pies all the more if you have done a bit of exercise!
If you have been making healthy food choices all through the year, try not to stop just because it’s Christmas. With all the socialising that comes at this time of year meal times can be a bit all-over-the-place, I find it really helps to try to eat at regular intervals and I always start the day with a healthy breakfast like a green smoothie or a bowl of porridge.
With party season in full swing there’s canapés at every corner. Try not to graze on these as they are often really high in fat. Instead eat a healthy meal before you go out so you don’t arrive starving and eat too many. This will also help you to not get too drunk! Talking of which I love a Christmas tipple, but did you know that fizzy drinks can make you feel drunk faster, so instead of a rum & coke try a vodka orange or a red wine instead and always alternate your boozy drinks with a glass a water – you will thank yourself the next morning! I have noticed that this year there are more low alcohol or alcohol-free drinks available than ever before. I plan to stock up on a few of these and give myself a few nights off this festive season. However, if you do over-do it and find yourself waking up with an aching head then I recommend making yourself some Bouillon soup. This thin, veg-based broth is a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals and is really easy for a fragile tummy to digest.
When it comes to the big day no one wants to restrict themselves, but I really recommend piling your plate up with veggies, so you leave less room for the high fat items like pigs in blankets. You will still feel like your indulging in a gorgeous plate of food and will still fill up, but your body will thank you later. There are a few other hacks I do to make the turkey dinner a bit healthier, without losing any of the taste. Firstly I make sure that I prick the skin of my turkey before cooking, which allows the fat to drain out during cooking. We use a roasting tin with an elevated rack in it, this way the bird is not sitting in the drained fat. Secondly never choose a bird that is labelled ‘self-basting’ as these are impregnated with fat. Instead to ensure a really moist bird we cook ours in a foil tent with apple juice. Finally, although the skin of the bird is really delicious it’s the most high fat part, so I try and only enjoy a small amount. Remember whilst we all want to indulge and enjoy our meal it’s important to try and remember to stop eating when you are full and not get to that point where you feel like you might pop! It takes a while for your brain to catch up with the satiety signals from your stomach, because of this I like to try and leave a gap of 20 mins between the main course and pud, this way I don’t end up feeling sick by eating too much.
In our house on Christmas Day we always make sure we head out for a walk after the big meal. If you can manage to do this half an hour after you eat it really helps with your digestion and if you live in a dog house like us they will certainly thank you! I know lots of you love to use your leftover turkey in a curry for Boxing Day. We used to do this, but these days I like to give myself a bit of a break from all the indulgence and instead we use up all the leftovers in a big salad with lots of green leaves, tomatoes and sprinkle over some toasted seeds. It really is delicious I promise you.
Finally, it can be really easy to find yourself grazing on the Quality Street, so I always try and fill up the fruit bowl so I can snack from there if I am feeling peckish . . . and no a Chocolate Orange doesn’t count!
Have an amazing Christmas and New Year!
Jon & Sally x