Christmas day for most people is anything but healthy.
The huge excess of processed junk food and alcohol tends to leave everyone feeling like a nauseous sack of old bloated potatoes, and nothing like the energetic, smiling faces you see on most Christmas advertising.
But that doesn’t cut it for me. I just can’t tolerate feeling that crappy on a day when we should all be feeling awesome.
That’s why I’ve developed a system that helps me keep feeling totally energised, positive and light all without sacrificing the delicious food that Christmas is renowned for.
So here it is. My 10 tips to an awesome and healthy Christmas.
1. Power up with a 10 minute morning interval workout
It’s Christmas so you’re going to eat more than usual right? If you want to prevent the dreaded post-Christmas waistline spread, and the typical food induced coma- then you’ll need to do something active to wake up your metabolism.
The best way?
A short, intense, resistance workout. (see my past post on how to put together a simple interval workout here)
Now, I won’t have time on Christmas day to do a long workout (who does?) but I can fit in 10 or 15 minutes. I bet you can too. I make this work by doing it first thing when I get out of bed (not my usual routine) so it’s done and dusted and I can get on with the days’ celebrations.
And the best part?
It leaves me with that natural post workout high that lights up the rest of my day.
Even if you haven’t worked out in a long time you can still get active. There’s loads of ideas for you here.
2. Have a post-workout green-smoothie
After sweating it out and revving up your metabolism, you’ll want to feed your hungry cells with a quick hit of easy to absorb nutrients. And that’s where the green smoothie comes in. It also happens to enhance the “post-workout high” that I love so much.
If you want to feel great on Christmas, then you need to do things that make you fell good, right? So why not go all out?
Here’s how I make mine. Load a blender with:
- 2 huge handfuls of washed raw spinach leaves (or even better, torn kale leaves without the stem)
- 1 piece fresh / frozen fruit (i.e. ½ cup frozen berries & ½ a small mango)
Blend it until smooth and drink it as you dance around to Christmas carols (or whatever other music you love) in the living room.
3. Eat a whole-food breakfast
You’ll have more than enough time to splurge later. Start your day with a simple, nutrient dense whole-food breakfast. This kind of breakfast will do a couple of great things. It will give you sustained energy that’ll last until lunch time and will set your liver up with nutrients it needs to handle that oncoming wine!
- Try a bowl of cooked oats with chopped apple, pear or berries (stew them for a bit of sexiness)
- Mashed avocado and feta on whole-wheat toast
- Chopped fresh fruit with plain organic Greek yogurt.
Not fancy, but they taste great nevertheless.
4. Serve up healthy snacks
This Christmas, forget about the crisps, fried and salted nuts and Bombay mix. Plate up snacks that have some class instead. Go for big bowls of fresh berries, nuts in their shells, hummus and baked corn chips, vegetable sticks, or smoked salmon on whole-wheat toast.
5. Eat only what’s been made by a human you know
Some of the worst Christmas food is the stuff that comes pre-made in a packet or tin. Think about it; premade Christmas cookies made with trans-fats, gravy mix that contains more e-numbers than an international phone number and cranberry sauce with enough sugar to sink a ship.
Definitely not the sort of ingredients that’ll leave you feeling energised.
The best way to avoid the junk?
Only serve up things you’re prepared to cook yourself (or can convince others to cook for you; see next point) from whole, fresh ingredients.
6. Take the load off and delegate
That doesn’t mean you need to spend 5 days in the kitchen cooking. If you’re the host, this year, do yourself a favour, ignore your inner control freak and get your guests to prepare some of the dishes. There’s no rule against sending them the link to a healthy recipe that you want them to use, and they may even thank you for making their job easier.
If you’re not the host, send the link of this post to whoever’s in charge with a gentle wink & a nod, and let them know you’re 100% willing to lend a hand to help. This way, everyone gets involved and everyone eats only the best and most delicious food possible. That’s what Christmas should all be about shouldn’t it?
7. Tweak your Christmas dinner
If you’re reading this and starting to feel like you might want to toss your Christmas menu out of the window & start from scratch, stop!
The simple truth is that almost every dish can be made healthier (and often more delicious) by tweaking a few ingredients.
Here are a few ideas:
- Mashed potato: mash through some oat milk and a little olive oil rather than cream and butter.
- Stuffing: swap the sausage for diced mushrooms and chestnuts, swap the white for wholegrain bread, and use 100% apple juice as a liquid rather than butter.
- Cakes & Pastries: Make with wholegrain flour instead of white and reduce the sugar in all the recipes by half (don’t worry, they’ll still be sweet).
- Mac & Cheese: If this was part of your Christmas dinner plan then maybe you should consider starting from scratch… Kidding! Try a few of these tweaks: use whole-grain macaroni rather than white; swap half the macaroni for lightly steamed cauliflower; use 1/2 natural greek yogurt & ½ vegetable broth rather than cream; top with wholegrain breadcrumbs.
So take a minute or two to think about each dish you plan to serve on Christmas day and ask yourself what simple tweaks could turn them into something just a little bit better.
8. Serve your Christmas dinner with as many bright green sides as possible
That’s vegetables of course!
I love to lighten things up with a huge rocket and strawberry salad with a sharp home-made French dressing for example, and serve simple steamed or quick sautéed vegetables like shredded Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or broccoli.
9. Drink the good stuff, and keep hydrated
What’s Christmas without an alcoholic beverage…or 3? If you’re going to take action on even one of the tips on this post, why not go with the flow & drink what is actually half good for you?
My number 1 option?
Red wine. You’ll be getting some potent antioxidants at least.
Anything mixed with fruit juice, soft drink or milk.
If you’re not drinking booze (and hats off to you) create yourself a classy drink by diluting some 100% apple juice with sparkling water (let me clarify- drinking straight fruit juice is like drinking a glass of sugar. That’s why we dilute it!).
Either way, keep hydrated and match every glass of alcohol with a glass of plain water.
10. Play games and have fun
Seriously, Christmas should be a time for fun and there’s more than enough psychology research that says that us big-kids (ahem… adults) just don’t play enough.
In fact, playing more is shown to help us not only decrease stress, but increase our mental capacity and overall health too. So get out those cards, draw some pictures with the kids, run around with the footy out the back yard or if you live in the northern hemisphere, go build a snow-man!
Just let loose and have some real fun.
But whatever you do, I wish you and your family a totally awesome and merry Christmas.
Cheers! (Sláinte, Στην υγειά σας, A votre santé, Salud, Salute, Chin Chin, Proost, Kampai, Kong Chien, Konbe, Fee saḥitkum, etc)
Don’t forget to share your Healthy Christmas ideas in the comments below!