The media being what it is, at this time of year there are a fair few stories about health and the various hazards that can abound – from the risks of being to cold to the risks of eating too much. And there are lots of stories about the average person’s Christmas calorie consumption, with as many as around eight thousand being quoted. And as ridiculous as that sounds, when you look at the breakdown of the calories, it’s not inconcievable that many people probably are eating that much – although the article’s figures for beer/ wine/ port etc do look a little more of like the description of an outlier than your average festive consumer.
Despite the stories of Christmas being potentially unhealthy, I think there are plenty of opportunities to view the holiday season as a healthy time – and plenty of ways to ensure that it is exactly that.
So here’s how you could healthy up your festive season:
First, forget about the mountains of chocolate and focus on the Christmas healthies – there could hardly be a better and more nutritious dinner than the kind of things people eat on Christmas and the surrounding days
– poultry. It’s delicious, it’s lean, it’s full of protein. What’s not to like?
– sprouts. These little beauties are packed with nutrients. And if you don’t boil the life out of them, they not only look better but retain more of their vitamin content.
– cranberry sauce, providing it’s made of real cranberries, this sauce is packed with powerful nutrients too. And at this time of year the shops sell fresh cranberries, so it’s easy enough to make your own and maximise the cranberry count
– nuts. Maybe it’s our hunter-gatherer evolutionary past, but nuts (for those of us without allergies) are a real Yuletide winner – health food in plentiful supply. Almonds for calcium, brazils for selenium, chestnuts for vitamin B6, pecans for B3. That Christmas bowl full of nuts is like a selection box of nutrients. Yes, nuts have fat content – but it’s not lard, and of course fat is essential to our diet. The trick is to keep within the limits – and a handful of nuts is unlikely to push you over the limit in the way a plate of deep fried foods would!
Aside from food, the holidays also provide some great opportunities for getting out and about – long walks in the countryside, maybe even some running (for the runners among us) as long as it’s not icy. And if you’re in need of a winter warmer – the gym is always a good place to break a sweat.
The holidays also – well, in theory anyway – provide some good chillout time, although there are of course those stress-inducers such as work thoughts which can niggle away at us one recent stress survey came with the advice that Christmas should come with a health warning (for full survey details click here – they’re under the headline “Festive Burnout”). Apparently 69% of people’s workloads increase as Christmas approaches, while over a third of people have had to cancel a social engagement due to festive burnout.
All of which only underlines the importance of setting aside a quiet day (or even an afternoon or two) two sit back, breathe out, and and find a little bit of Christmas peace. A little bit of time to take stock, maybe do some mindfulness meditation, and step back from all the Christmas freneticness.
And before we know it, January will roll round again – and the health kick can begin in eanest!