WITHOUT SOUNDING like a killjoy, I wish to encourage everyone to be sensible this Christmas holiday. It is not called the silly season without reason. Excessive partying, drinking, overeating, and overspending while running from event to event and from store to store is the order of the day.
Sadly, the commercial interest groups are happy to promote and encourage this irresponsible behaviour.
Little wonder many of us end up tired, miserable, rundown, overweight, indebted, and stressed by the time the new year rolls in. What if this holiday you made the commitment to yourself to start the new year feeling refreshed, energised, trim, and relaxed? With just a little planning, some discipline, and willpower, you can do it. Here are some tips to help you have a healthy Christmas:
Good nutrition. Make healthy food choices this season. Remember to eat plenty protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while cutting back on carbohydrates. Do not be carried away with all the sweets - puddings, cakes, sweet soft drinks, and chocolates. Breakfast sets up your day, so have a healthy breakfast every day of the holidays. Most overweight people do not have breakfast. I recommend a soy protein shake drink and herbal tea as an ideal, protein-rich breakfast.
Plan ahead. If a dinner party is coming up, compensate in the days before by being careful with your food choices, making them as healthy as possible. Save your indulgences for the big day and eat moderately the day after the event.
Portion control. It is estimated that many people consume as much as 7,000 calories on Christmas day alone and may gain five pounds or more in weight over the festive period. Enjoy your food, but don't overdo the serving sizes. Be aware of what you are eating and how much you eat. Awareness is the key to keeping your food intake in check.
Learn to to say no. Be prepared to sometimes decline food or to not join in with every round of drinks. Choose soda water or tonic water as an alternative if necessary. To stop mindless eating and drinking at functions, keep away from the food table or buffet and feel free to turn your back on passing waiters.
Eat before going out. Do not go to any holiday function hungry. Have something light and healthy such as a wholegrain sandwich, a protein shake, or a bowl of soup, and drink some water before going to the party. It will take the edge off your cravings and help stop you from overeating. Pre-packaged protein snack bars, nuts, and fruit or vegetables are very convenient. I also strongly advise taking your vitamin supplements before going to the party.
Keep hydrated. Drink eight or more glasses of water every day during the holidays to keep you hydrated. Use water, coconut water, and herbal teas (cold or hot) as much as possible to replace sweet drinks, sodas, and alcoholic beverages. A small glass of white wine has almost 200 calories. Green tea is especially great to drink throughout the day, particularly if you plan to party and drink alcohol at night, as it contains powerful antioxidants and helps to detoxify your body.
Beware of alcohol. Think of alcohol as intoxicating liquid fat as alcohol is second only to fat in its high calorie content. If you do drink alcohol, remember to alternate every alcoholic drink with a glass of water, and do not drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol will dehydrate you while stimulating your appetite and distorting your good intentions. Do not drink and drive!
Exercise. Remember to keep up with your exercise routine during the season. Just because you were out the night before is not an excuse to sleep in and forego your workout. Staying active will help you feel better and is an excellent way to sweat out those toxins while burning some calories. If you feel tired, yoga or stretching exercises are great options. Try to exercise outdoors as much as possible and take advantage of the health benefits of sunshine.
Relax and rest. Although Christmas is a great time to catch up with friends and family, remember to have some time for yourself. Take time each day of the season to meditate or to do stress-relieving breathing exercises. Get plenty of rest and aim for eight hours of sleep at night. You don't have to go to every party.
Give consciously. We all think that Christmas is about giving, so take the time to give to yourself this year. Don't get stressed out over Christmas-present buying. Plan your shopping in advance, and consciously decide to give healthy presents this holiday. Our wellness coaches can help you choose 'wellness gifts' for your friends and family.
Don't deny yourself. Allow some indulgences. Relax when having your favourite treat. Plan for them so that you don't resent your action and then feel guilty and lose control.
I wish for all my readers a blessed and happy holiday season.
You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at firstname.lastname@example.org or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women' is available locally and on the Internet.