Christmas does not need to overturn healthful living completely.
The holiday period is, commonly, a time of overindulgence. With almost infinite food at our fingertips, it can be difficult not to go overboard on the cheeseboard.
Studies have found that during the holiday season, people usually put on a little extra weight.
This finding is no surprise, but research has also shown that people typically don't shift that weight before the next holiday season rolls around.
In fact, some scientists believe that this seasonal weight gain might be one of the reasons why people tend to get heavier as they age. As one author explains:
"Since this gain is not reversed during the spring or summer months, the net 0.48 kilogram weight gain in the fall and winter probably contributes to the increase in body weight that frequently occurs during adulthood."
Of course, eating poorly is not the only seasonal hazard that we face. Below are a few simple tips to help you cruise through Christmas Day without denting your health (too much).
1. Christmas spirit
During the Christmas period, there is often more alcohol in the home than usual, which can increase the temptation to indulge. At this time of year, people also tend to socialize more, providing a spike in the number of opportunities to drink alcohol.
Although taking it easy can be challenging, moderation will make Christmas Day much more pleasant. Here are some quick alcohol-related tips:
- at parties, intersperse alcoholic drinks with soft drinks
- eat before you drink and avoid salty snacks as they make you thirsty
- refrain from starting to drink early in the day
- remember that you are not under any obligation to accept every single party invitation
- bear in mind that you do not need to stay until the bitter end of every event
- remember that it is not necessary to accept every offer of a free drink
- assign yourself as the designated driver and stick to soft drinks
- stay hydrated
- add more mixer to your glass so that your drink lasts longer
- try nonalcoholic beers
- choose drinks with lower levels of alcohol
- drink slowly
- avoid rounds and drink at your own pace
2. Do not remain seated
On Christmas Day, it can be tempting to stay sitting on the couch for the majority of your time, other than the hour or two that you spend sitting at the dining table. Many families gather around to watch seasonal movie marathons.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with indulging in some sofa time, but it will benefit your general sense of well-being if you also get up and move around now and again.
A quick walk in the park, a game of frisbee, or even some star jumps in the middle of the lounge will suffice.
If nothing else, a brief spate of activity will reduce the time available for consuming candy and roast potatoes.
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3. Obligatory overeating
Christmas Day is, for many of us, the most gluttonous day of the year. Dinner is vast, and there is an accompanying array of biscuits, cheeses, chocolates, and snacks to choose from throughout the day. Of all the topics on this list, reducing food intake is perhaps the hardest at this time of year.
If you are tempted to go in for a second helping of dinner, force yourself to wait 20 minutes and then assess whether you truly need any more turkey or nut roast.
Once your meal has had time to reach your stomach, you might realize that you are not actually hungry and that the additional calories are not in your best interest.
4. Eat something healthful
As we have established, Christmas Day is bursting at the seams with sinful cuisine, but that doesn't mean that you can't opt for a little light relief.
Perhaps try to replace a few calorific snacks with a piece of fruit or two. Alongside the obvious benefits of taking in more vitamins and minerals, you might find that you will be fuller and, therefore, more unlikely to tuck into the less healthful options surrounding you.
When you are shopping for the holiday season, make sure to add some healthful food items to your list.
Some people find that starting Christmas Day with a large, healthful breakfast is helpful. It means that you are less inclined to begin snacking early and that you have had a good dose of nutrients before the onslaught begins.
5. Mind your mental well-being
There are numerous ways to look after your mental health during the holidays. In 2018, we dedicated an entire feature to tips on maintaining mental well-being during the holidays, and you can read that here.
Rather than repeating what we have already written, we will just provide one important tip: Consider doing something for someone else. Not everyone enjoys the holiday season, so a little bit of kindness might do wonders for someone else... and for you.
Being kind brings rewards to both the giver and the receiver. Some research has shown that altruism might boost self-esteem. Another study concluded that carrying out acts of kindness increased self-reported life satisfaction.
Although there are many ways to guard your mental well-being over the holiday season, being kind guards someone else's mental well-being, too.
6. Be careful!
Accidents do happen, and they often happen around the holidays. Alcohol and a hot stove do not mix. Then, there are batteries for children to swallow, Christmas trees that the cat can pull down, and sharp knives cutting through lumps of meat.
First and foremost, although candles are nice to look at, they are still an open flame. Avoid placing candles near your Christmas tree, even if it is plastic. In fact, limit your candle use wherever possible.
Make sure that toys are age appropriate and that children remain under supervision. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, U.S. hospital emergency departments provided treatment for about 256,700 toy-related injuries.
Turn off all of your lights before you turn in for the night. Santa always carries a torch, so he won't need your tree lights.
And, finally, although leftovers are a delicious treat, make sure that you refrigerate them as soon as possible and reheat them thoroughly before eating them.
People often view the holiday season as an open invitation to do whatever they please. Instead, this year, consider it an invitation to be good to your mental and physical health. From all of us at Medical News Today — Happy Christmas!