‘Tis the season to be jolly…Christmas is almost here, which usually means lots of festive treats such as mulled wine, chocolate and cakes. It’s also the season to overindulge for many of us, as the average Briton will gain around 2.7kg over the festive break! How can you give your willpower a boost and try to stay healthy during the holidays?

1. Everything in moderation

Christmas parties usually involve a delicious buffet, filled with a variety of delectable snacks and canapés. It’s all too easy to be tempted to sample a little bit of everything, but before you know it, your plate is stacked so high it’s about to topple over! There’s nothing wrong with trying new foods, but instead of filling up on everything, why not try this instead:

  • Have a light and healthy snack before you leave for the party
  • We often allow our eyes to be bigger than our stomachs – reach for a few of the foods you know you’ll enjoy rather than piling your plate high with absolutely everything!
  • Stick to just one plate of food instead of going back for seconds (and thirds!)
  • Fill half your plate with salad and vegetables, and the rest with protein-based canapés like salmon and chicken

2. Best start to the day

We’ve all heard the popular saying: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” by nutritionist Adelle Davis in the 1960s. This is still relevant, because fuelling up earlier in the day makes sense, when your body needs the most calories for energy and you have time to then burn off the calories during the rest of the day.

So, start the day with a healthy breakfast. Porridge makes an ideal breakfast, as it’s a complex carbohydrate that stabilises blood sugar levels and takes longer to digest, helping control your appetite by providing a steady supply of energy. Probiotic yogurt with a fruit topping, such as blueberries, is another healthy breakfast option as it helps to boost immunity, which is important during the winter months.

3. Sensible snacking

Over the festive period, we tend to stock up on comfort foods and snacks, especially as there are so many offers on these types of foods in the supermarkets. With temptation all around, it can be hard to know which snacks are better for us than others. The NHS give some good ideas for healthy festive snacks, such as:

  • Swapping to filo pastry for your tarts and other pastry-based snacks as it has a third less calories than flaky or short-crust pastry, which are both high in fat
  • Swap to squash, root vegetables or sweet potatoes, which contain less than half the fat of roast potatoes
  • Peanuts are a festive favourite, but are high in fat. Pretzels are a healthy alternative, which contain 0.8g of fat compared to 15.7g for a 30g handful!
  • Swap chocolates for some dates. Equally as sweet and tasty and virtually fat free!

4. Healthy Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner is the epitome of overindulgence. We all seem to find a second stomach when it comes to eating it! However, you can shave 500 calories from your Christmas dinner with these handy cooking tips from the NHS, such as removing the skin from your turkey, replacing sausage meat stuffing with chestnuts and avoid putting butter on your vegetables.

The time of day you eat also has some impact on how calories are burned. If you eat a heavy dinner later in the day, you’re less likely to burn off those calories before bedtime; so try having your Christmas dinner at lunch time instead of later in the afternoon.

5. Stay active

Attending a festive party is a great opportunity to get active. How? Dancing! It’s a great form of moderate aerobic activity, and you can burn upwards of 443 calories per hour by doing it. Another way to stay active over the festive season is to go for walks with the family. Walking is the cheapest form of exercise but it’s also extremely enjoyable and a great way to explore nature with the family. You can read the health benefits of walking in our blog.

We hope that these ideas inspire you to make some positive steps to improving your health and wellbeing this festive season.

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