How to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas without damaging your health

Christmas means different things to different people, and debates over “the true meaning of Christmas” are trawled out every year and will run and run. But there are some things that everyone can agree on, from those who are purely celebrating the religious aspects of the festive season to others for whom it is all about Black Friday and Santa Claus.

These precepts are that this is a time for celebration, to get together with friends, forget about day to day worries for a little while and to have a good time. There is also a general consensus among all that this is a season in which food and drink can and should flow freely, and we are all at liberty to indulge in those festive favourites.

The holiday season is a time when emotions run high and are amplified. For positive emotions like love and happiness, that is wonderful but the same applies to stress, loneliness or financial worry. The net result is that celebrating or stressed, happy or sad, we can all end up over doing the food and drink at Christmas. Research carried out in the USA showed that Americans gain an average 0.5 KG by the end of December. The good news is there are some simple strategies you can adopt to avoid becoming just another statistic, but without dampening down the magic of Christmas.

The fundamental things apply

A good breakfast sets you up for the day and reduces the temptation to snack on unhealthy treats – this rule applies all year round, and is doubly important to remember at Christmas. A good-sized bowl of porridge will ensure your stomach doesn’t start rumbling. And that way, when your favourite treats are on offer, you’ll be happy with one or two, and not demolish the entire plate!

A strategic approach to buffets

Whether you are at an “all you can eat” restaurant or visiting family and they have laid out a spread on the dining table for everyone to help themselves, a buffet can be a dangerous place. It seems to bring out the worst in us, with ordinarily sensible eaters desperate to “get their money’s worth” or to try every single thing that is on offer. Take a step back, assess what is available and choose some healthy but delicious treats that you actually want, just as if you were choosing from a menu. Then leave the rest for everyone else to fight over!

Go easy on the Christmas spirits

Overdoing the alcohol can damage your health in a whole lot of ways. Apart from the potential impact on vital organs, alcohol is, in itself, high in calories. It also causes you to lose your inhibitions, leading to the famous “munchies” in which you find yourself eating all sorts of things that you would ordinarily avoid.

Relax and enjoy Christmas

The above three tips will help you ensure your body is not still counting the cost of Christmas next Easter. Most important, though is to remember the true meaning of Christmas – whatever that might be to you – and to have a wonderful time with family and friends.