With the abundance of enticingly rich, and not necessarily nutritious foods, and the tradition of doing very little else than eating it and sleeping it off by the fire, you might say that the festive period doesn’t lend itself to being ‘good’ for our health.
Maybe this makes you a little anxious, and you stress about ‘undoing’ any work you’d put in throughout the year, or maybe it’s simply an excuse to ‘write off’ December and go hell for leather on a health kick in Jan.
I understand the temptation, but neither are reaaaally going to be that helpful, healthy OR conducive to our happiness.
Instead, is there a way to stay ‘healthy’ over Christmas… without stressing, cancelling all fun and banning chocolate?!
I’m here to tell you YES!
First off let’s talk about what ‘healthy’ really means.
We may have been led to believe that ‘healthy’ looks like a well oiled model with a 6 pack and a green juice in hand - who certainly NEVER touches a ‘fattening’ food and goes for at least 3 runs a day.
But, in reality, this is just one of diet culture’s marketing gimmicks.
And TRUE health is far more balanced, less extreme, less ‘sexy’... (and less sellable)!!
Being TRULY healthy, is a consistent effort to care for ALL our needs (or at least those of which we have control over).
This includes our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
So while, YES, regular exercise and a nutritious diet plays a part. It’s not the be all and end all.
And at Christmas time, connecting with loved ones, having fun, celebrating traditions, letting off some steam and resting (ESPECIALLY after the year we’ve had!) are important factors that ALSO serve our health dramatically.
*And sacrificing them because you’ve been made aware of the amount of calories they involve, is NOT healthy*
It’s about balance. And it’s about finding out what you really need over this time, and doing your best to honour that.
So here’s 4 tips to truly honour your health over Christmas:
1. Practice self compassion.
This year has been HARD, and certainly on some more than others. Breathe for a sec and acknowledge the toll it’s taken on both your mind and your body. It’s OK to feel a little battered and broken - this constant uncertainty is EXHAUSTING. Be kind and treat yourself like you would your best friend. What would you suggest they do at this time? Take it easy; go for some walks; enjoy their chocolate without guilt? Show yourself that same love - you deserve it.
2. Practice self-awareness
Check in with yourself ON THE REG! How are you feeling physically and mentally, and is there something you can do to improve on it? If you’re feeling a little sluggish and lethargic, even though you haven’t been over-exerting yourself, maybe a little exercise and some lighter food IS exactly what you need. OR your body might just be asking for a day under the covers! Try things out and adapt as necessary (hint: stopping a workout half way through isn't failing!!). Whatever it is, as long as it comes from a place of love and not punishment, it’s likely benefiting your health in some way!
3. Consume food mindfully
Keep this sense of awareness when you’re eating. When there’s endless food, it is SO easy to overeat to a point where it’s uncomfortable and hey, there is NO shame in that! Doing that simply because it’s Christmas is sometimes part of the fun! But if it’s becoming frequently more uncomfortable than enjoyable, slow down, actually taste the food, and appreciate every mouthful - so you can FEEL when it’s enough! Also keep in mind WHY you’re eating it: is it just because it’s there, because it’s good for you, because you’re hungry or because it’s your favourite? All are FINE, as long as it’s a conscious decision! This awareness puts you in control WITHOUT the need for punishment or restriction.
4. Consume social media mindfully!!
Mince pies aren’t the only thing we’re likely to consume too much of: too much social media can make you feel just as queasy! Notice when the mindless scrolling through other people’s presents, family photos, Christmas dinners and workouts is making you feel anything other than calm and happy about your own, and remove those triggers from your timeline (or stop scrolling altogether!). Consume things that uplift and inspire but never SHAME you. I know often (especially from a fitness perspective) these are wrapped up as ‘motivational’ - but if it’s inducing a negative emotion in you, I PROMISE it’s not really serving your health!
If you keep these things in mind, not just through the festive period, but throughout LIFE, staying truly healthy - as well as happy - is going to get FAR easier!
Start with love, don’t compare and keep trying your best, because really, that’s all we can do!!
Love you, have a very very Merry Christmas! M xx