When this week’s blog post was tapped out on my keyboard there is still a month to Christmas – but already I can sense the rising tension out on Main Street. Parking spots are more hotly contested and car horns blaring more in impatience. People are starting to feel pressured, both emotionally and financially. Lots of things contribute: You might feel pressure (set by yourself or others) to complete projects before that magic date of 24 December. There may be family obligations approaching, expectations from family and friends to spend time with them, and sometimes encouragement to over-spend too. You can easily feel thoroughly ‘squeezed’.
By Christmas Eve many people are about ready to explode from the pressure. As Christmas Day dawns, the temptation is there to relieve your stress and manage strained family relationships through excessive food and alcohol. Have a real blow-out. But spending Christmas Day this way can leave you with a monster food and alcohol hangover. Here’s a plan for a healthier Christmas day that might save you from feeling bad the day after.
First, on the big day, make sure you eat a real breakfast that contains plenty of high quality protein. The temptation is to ‘save yourself’ for the big lunch by eating nothing, but this will only make you ravenous by lunchtime, more prone to over-indulging in huge portions of rich foods. Eating a good breakfast will mean that when the Big Meal arrives, you will find it easier to resist over-eating. Also, a protein based breakfast will help stabilise your mood, as your blood sugar level will be less reactive. You’ll be less susceptible to the effects of alcohol on an empty stomach too.
You know the kids will want to rip into their presents under the tree first, and that’s fun, but have some fast protein food available for them too. Like mini quiches made the day before, or tiny meatballs that they can eat on the run before returning to their new toys.
If you’re eating out, there’s an art to approaching a buffet meal that makes it easier to eat healthy: Fill your plate up with salad first. Then add some meat. Ignore the bread (you can eat that any day of the week). Enjoy a reasonable portion of dessert; after all, you don’t get Christmas pudding every week, but go easy on the custard or icecream. Ideally, have some fresh fruit with it. Avoid returning to the buffet for second helpings because it tasted so good. (That’s the tricky part.)
A relaxing walk after lunch, or an active game of cricket with the kids may be just the thing to get you away from the buffet and burning off some of the calories. This year, by the end of the day you might be feeling relaxed and revived by the celebrations rather than over-stuffed, groggy and claggy from too much food and alcohol. Have a great Christmas Day!