It’s no secret that around the holidays we all eat a bit more than normal and have less time for exercise. It’s inevitable and not always controllable. Despite my best efforts, I’m also guilty of letting my healthy eating slide a little at this time of year. Endless Christmas functions for work, friends, family, sports clubs, and the gym normally elicit the attitude of “I’ll eat healthier in the new year” or “it’s okay, it’s the holidays!” It’s great to immerse yourself in the spirit of Christmas, but it can also cause long term detriments to your health.
Here are the biggest traps of the festive season and how to handle them:
Lollies or Chocolates People Bring as Gifts to Your Workplace
Try to avoid these, bring a satisfying, healthy lunch to work to appease the hunger pangs. Enforce a blanket rule forbidding yourself from eating any of this. I found a half-eaten box of Lindt balls at work and it was hard to stop after just one (I didn’t).
Eating Unhealthily When You’re By Yourself Because “I’m Eating So Much Bad Food Anyway”
Take every opportunity to cook your own healthy food with lots of vegetables or suggest cooking dinner at your place when hanging out with friends. This is more fun and you’ll feel better afterwards! On the big day, get into the prawns, salad and turkey. This is lightweight and healthy food that won’t weigh you down for the next day.
Trying Not to Offend Your Great Aunt
There are plenty of other people to eat mountains of food so you can show your appreciation with a compliment. Remember that moderation is important: it’s okay to try that chocolate fudge if you only have a little bit. You won’t regret not eating more but will probably feel bad if you eat too much.
Losing Your Exercise Routine
To me, this is the most detrimental trap of the festive season. Everyone is busy and justifies not exercising with claims of, “I’ve been eating terribly anyway, exercising seems pointless” – this is wrong! No, you’re not going to burn off that half-chicken, pasta, cheesecake, and glass of champagne with a fifteen-minute run, but any exercise you can do will make you feel better and less likely to spend the afternoon on the couch.
The most significant benefit of keeping up your exercise routine is that once the festivity settles down, it takes little effort to resume your healthy habits. It doesn’t matter that for a few weeks you overindulged in chocolate and cookies, because after a short period of time you’ll feel fantastic again simply because you maintained a routine.
If you don’t exercise for a few weeks, all the while eating worse and more food than you’re used to, this can trigger a dangerous spiral of unhealthy behaviour. You become lethargic and despite claims of “I’ll get back to the gym in the new year”, this motivation doesn’t come easily.
Do yourself a favour and work out today. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get back into it. We’re all busy this time of year but running for half an hour only represents a tiny proportion of your day and will leave you feeling so much better.