How to stay healthy at Christmas
Somehow, Christmas is nearly upon us already; a time for cosy evenings in, spending time with friends and family, and of course indulging in treats and plenty of delicious food.
If you’re on a weight-loss or health journey, the knowledge that Christmas is coming may be a source of anxiety or worry that you may ‘fall off the wagon’ or undo your efforts in having a healthier lifestyle and diet.
We’re here to tell you that there is no need to fear the season. Staying healthy over Christmas, while still having fun, is perfectly possible with many ways to make sure you’re regularly getting in exercise and essential nutrients, and overall staying on track to being a healthier you.
Here are our top five tips on how to stay healthy at Christmas:
1. Stay active
Depending on where you are in the world, Christmas might be a time for staying in and keeping warm, or snuggling under a blanket and watching festive films, but that doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to keeping active alongside the downtime.
Exercise where you can by going for regular walks or signing up for a fun weekly gym class. Alternatively, the exercise plans on the Online Programme are designed to inspire you with workout videos for all abilities to help you keep track of your fitness.
If these options don’t feel achievable in the busy month of December, getting in ‘incidental’ exercise may work better for you: rather than sitting down to Christmas shop online, go out to shop (you’d be surprised how a day out shopping can quickly turn into 10,000 steps!). Try also taking the stairs instead of the lift, and park further away so you get in some extra walking.
2. Don’t sacrifice the nutrients
While Christmas may come with its fair share of traditional treats and indulgent foods, there’s still always the opportunity to get in essential nutrients every day to help you keep up with the festive fun.
Try to add non-starchy vegetables to every meal for added vitamins and minerals, and prioritise getting plenty of protein into your diet. If you need some pointers, we’ve shared our top five foods you should eat every day.
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3. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways you can make sure you’re staying healthy during times it might feel difficult, especially when alcohol may be involved. While of course cutting out alcohol is undoubtedly the healthier option, we know that’s not always realistic at times like Christmas.
If you’re going to indulge in the odd hot toddy or glass of bubbly, have a glass of water on hand to drink alongside it. Not only will that help you stay hydrated, but it’ll also stop you from drinking quite so much alcohol and prevent those dreaded Christmas-time hangovers. Win-win!
4. Find tasty alternatives
When trying to be conscious of your health, don’t be afraid to still enjoy your usual traditional treats. You shouldn’t have to resist a delicious mince pie when the rest of the family is having them, or sacrifice your usual Christmas pudding.
Thankfully, there are always ways of making healthier versions of your favourite festive meals and snacks. For example, did you know that dark chocolate is a healthier alternative to milk chocolate, and can even be beneficial for your health in small doses?  There are already plenty of delicious alternatives on our Online Programme.
5. Prioritise your wellbeing
Our final tip for staying healthy at Christmas is prioritising what’s truly important: your well-being!
Christmas can be a difficult time for many; it can bring up family issues, and loneliness, or trigger food worries for many, but ultimately it should be a time for fun, joy and spending time with loved ones.
If you are feeling worried about the upcoming holiday season, we recommend talking to a healthcare professional to find the most suitable options for you.
Enjoy the time with your loved ones, try to relax and be kind to yourself. You can still enjoy Christmas, socialise and continue traditions without falling off the wagon or sacrificing your health. Exercising where possible, finding healthier alternatives, and staying hydrated can all help you keep on track.
If there’s one thing to take away from this though, it’s that while having a healthy body and diet is always important, this is a time of year when the main priority is to enjoy yourself. Take care of your mental wellbeing first, and the rest will follow.
Hooper L, Kay C, Abdelhamid A, Kroon PA, Cohn JS, Rimm EB, Cassidy A. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Mar;95(3):740-51. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.023457. Epub 2012 Feb 1. PMID: 22301923.