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Our Favourite Ways to Have a Healthy Family Christmas

Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself and have a good time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to give up on your healthy lifestyle


For many, Christmas means overindulging in everything we know we should avoid the rest of the year; like eating rich and fatty food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinking alcohol and eating chocolate every day. And, many of us remain firmly planted on the sofa or seated around the table for long periods of time.

But while it's time to relax and indulge in your favourite treats and lazy activities, Christmas doesn't have to equal weeks in the gym. By making a few simple changes you can make sure that your family's Christmas is healthy as well as happy.

1. Get moving

While we all love lazy days watching boxsets, it's important to fit in some form of exercise to avoid becoming too sedentary during the break. Exercise could be anything from a leisurely stroll with the whole family, taking the kids to the local swimming pool, or playing an active game together inside like Twister or Sardines.

2. Stick to your normal routine

One way to avoid excessive snacking over the Christmas period is to stick to your normal mealtimes. Having regular meals throughout the day with plenty of fibre and protein reduces your hunger and makes you less likely to snack and overeat. Avoid having snacks lying around, as it makes it more likely that you'll eat them.

3. Indulge in moderation

You don't have to give up on your favourite Christmas treats in order to stay healthy - the key is enjoying yourself in moderation. For example, if you love Christmas dinner, have a bit of everything but stick to one serving. If chocolate is your special treat, have one or two, but only after dinner and not an entire box of Celebrations. If you enjoy wine the most, balance it out by having a smaller serving of pudding or alternating glasses of wine with water! Have a little bit of everything, but don't stuff yourself until you feel uncomfortably full and keep your portion sizes under control. Make sure you balance it out all by eating healthy breakfasts and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

4. Try healthier alternatives

There's no question that many traditional Christmas food recipes, handed down by generations, shouldn't be messed with lightly. However there are plenty of ways you can make your Christmas cooking healthier by substituting certain ingredients with healthier options, such as making eggnog with low fat milk instead of cream, and using olive oil for roast potatoes instead of fat. You can also substitute snacks and nibbles like crisps and canapes with vegetables and low fat dips, or some fresh fruit or unsalted nuts.

5. Limit the alcohol

One of the biggest sources of unhealthy calories in many people's diets is alcohol. It can be easy to drink more than planned during long leisurely Christmas lunches and dinners, especially if you have a host or a hostess who is adept at topping up your glass. If you find it hard to say no, keep in mind that the government's recommended guideline for how much alcohol you should drink in a week is 14 units for both men and women - that equals 6 glasses of wine or six pints of beer. They also recommend spreading them evenly across the week - not drinking it all at once.

6. Limit stress

For many, avoiding stress during Christmas might be easier said than done: however much you love your family, being responsible for cooking a comprehensive meal for a large number of people or getting the right presents that will make your children happy will always have an element of tension to it. While avoiding stress completely might be too much to ask, it shouldn't have to ruin your enjoyment of the holiday.

If you feel yourself becoming consumed with stress, take a step back and see if there's anything you can do to reduce it. Maybe it means letting someone else be in charge of cooking dinner one night, or cutting down on the number of presents you buy for your children. Maybe it means less entertaining, and spending more time just with your close family. Do what feels right to reduce the stress for you and your family.

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