How to stay healthy during a season of gluttony

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By Anna Rogan

Everyone deserves to indulge a little while celebrating and spending time with family and friends.  Yet, nothing puts a damper on festivities more than restrictive ‘healthy’ diet rules or feeling like you’ve completely overdone it.

We’ve got some easy tips to help you enjoy just enough indulgence over the silly season.

Watch your drinking habits

That extra stubby or glass of bubbles might seem like good fun at the time, but no one likes a hangover. Session beers like Little Creatures Pale Ale are lower in alcohol and a great option for those family parties that stretch from lunch time, past sunset and into the evening. Mixing a little soda water or ice with your wine might seem passé, but it’s also a wonderful way to cut down the alcohol volume while still enjoying a social drink.

With all the wine, cold stubbies and soft drinks it’s easy to forget to drink enough water, but keeping properly hydrated is important in our Australian heat. Alternating a glass of water for every other drink will not only minimise the hangover, but is also an effective way of cutting down the calories.

If you’re not a big drinker, but plain old H20 leaves you feeling bored, you could try a flavoured sparkling mineral water or low sugar iced tea. For a festive addition to your water, you can make fruit and flower ice cubes. Simply add cut fruit or edible flowers to water and freeze them in your regular ice cube trays.

Make your own healthy treats and bring them along

It’s almost impossible to be faced with a gorgeous Christmas spread and not be tempted to partake. Making your own healthy (or at least healthier) foods and bringing them with you means you know what’s in at least one of the treats you’re eating.

There’s no shortage of creative recipes to get you excited about bringing along a healthy treat. Fruit skewers with a marshmallow or chocolate thrown in for fun are an easy choice, while raw bliss balls provide an alternative to chocolate rum balls (Googling “raw bliss ball recipe” throws up more than 850,000 results!)

Fill a plate

One of the loveliest things about silly season parties is the all-in-it-togetherness of cheese platters, share plates and buffet dining. But it also makes it easy to fill up on chips and dips before the main meal, and can leave you feeling more stuffed than a Christmas turkey by the time desserts are served.

The good news is, a simple plate is your best ally. Instead of taking a freewheeling approach to the nibbling platter try filling up a plate with just a little of everything you’d like to try. You’ll be surprised by how quickly it fills up, and better prepared to say no to seconds because you’ll know exactly how much you’ve eaten.

Exercise in a way that doesn’t feel like exercise

January is the time for exercise resolutions like joining a gym or trying yoga, while December is the time to find ways to move your body without it feeling like a chore. Making exercise social is a fantastic way to help you feel like it isn’t exercise. You could suggest a post-dinner walk to take in the neighbourhood Christmas lights with your partner, or a bike ride with the grandkids down to the beach. If you’re meeting up with friends, suggest something active like a casual swim or paddle instead of coffee and cake.

Take a long-term view

When it comes down to it, healthy habits aren’t made or broken in just one day, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you over do it. There’s no reason why a weekend of indulgence needs to turn into a whole season of gluttony. You could try balancing two days of eating whatever you like, followed by five days of taking it back to basics with fresh fruit, salad and lean meats that leave you feeling nourished and full of energy.

Remember that staying active and getting rest when you need it are also essential to long term health and wellbeing.

Putting restrictions and rules around what you can eat at a time when all your favourite treats are abundant is a sure-fire way to send you diving head first into a Christmas pudding binge. While giving yourself permission to enjoy the things you love will help you enjoy the festivities in moderation, and will also do wonders for your soul.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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