Raise a glass and still feel great the next day.
Christmas is an indulgent time where rocky road, ham and gallons of spiced mulled wine are on hand all day every day (which is both delightful and terrifying).
We all admit to slipping off the bandwagon when it comes to Christmas because who can say no to potato bake and pasta salad? The main aim is to enjoy these indulgences with moderation and opt for better choices where possible.
We’ve consulted Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson, Simone Austin, to give you the 411 on celebrating Christmas in health and happiness. After all, who said that living a holistic lifestyle had to lack the festive spirit? Here are a few simple steps to streamline your summer season.
Swap every second alcoholic drink for a soda and lime
It’s pretty much Queen Lizzy’s G&Ts without the calories (and the hangover). “Alcohol is a high calorie contributor, with 27 kilojoules/gram,” says Austin.
Essentially this means that you’re getting a lot of energy in a tiny amount of liquid, making it easy to overdo. If you consume more energy (kilojoules) than you burn, then the remaining calories are stored in your fat cells.
So, if you’re not running like Usain Bolt on a daily basis, all of those kilojoules are likely to become fat. This makes it pretty obvious that avoiding alcohol where possible is always a healthier choice.
Hence, halve your intake over the party season with soda and lime in-between drinks. The soda will also help to keep you hydrated while you’re consuming alcohol, keeping off the headache all your fellow festive conspirators will be feeling tomorrow. You’ll be the only one up and at em’ for the morning walk they planned last night.
Just because you’ll have a big night doesn’t mean you should waste the day
Austin recommends eating healthy throughout the day so that you can enjoy your evening. “You want to feel alive, not sluggish and stressed when you go out.”
She adds that exercise produces endorphins that can help reduce stress and your appetite, which can be particularly useful at this time of the year. “Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and make sure you have a snack after exercise so you can be selective with your choices,” Austin recommends. Yoghurt is a good option for post-workout protein and carbs.
Eat seasonally at the farmer’s market
For us Aussies, the Christmas season falls in tune with summer. Luckily this means delights such as mangoes, avocados and cherries.
Taking a stroll down to the local market can really rejuvenate the senses. “Fuelling yourself with healthy sweet treats like summer fruits will keep you energised rather than feeling sluggish,” says Austin. Not to mention that the dietary fibre can keep the bowels running smoothly if you are having a few big nights.
Give purpose-based exercise a go
Make your Chrissie errands and catch-ups into an exercise plan. Austin recommends things like walking to the corner store to get your milk instead of driving, or walking with a friend to check out local Christmas decorations rather than sitting down to have a drink. This way you can still see your friends or finish your recipe and get your heart rate up too.
Make little healthy choices each day
This might just be taking the skin off your turkey for a leaner choice, or opting for less stodgy sides i.e. swapping potato bake for rosemary and olive oil roasted potatoes, honeyed parsnips or sautéed Brussel sprouts.
Austin’s top tip is to make sure the substitute is something you enjoy. For example, if you love potatoes, a roasted style has EVOO added for heart healthy unsaturated fats, which is much better than the saturated fats in potato bake cream.
Have a seafood Christmas
Sadly, this is not the ‘see-food’ (and eat it) Christmas we’re used to. This type of festive meal revolves around actual ‘seafood’ which is high in omega 3 fats for brain function and lower in saturated fats than other meat (ahem, pork crackling).
“Seafood is also high in zinc which is important or the immune system. At this time of year we can be extra busy so taking care of the immune system is essential,” says Austin.