The end of the year is the time where most of us will allow ourselves to eat generally anything and everything we want without much care or regret. From work lunches to extended family dinners to Christmas parties, Christmas is after all, the season to “eat, drink and be merry!” For the most part, this mentality is perfectly valid – we all deserve it after the year we’ve had!

Research shows that the average Australian gains up to 1.5kg during the festive season, with excessive eating being the primary cause for the additional weight gain but also lack of physical activity. However, the end of year festivities does not have to be the downfall of your healthy eating habits or weight loss efforts. You can enjoy yourself whilst taking small steps and changes to still stay fit and healthy.

Whether you’re looking for simple ways to maintain your health and wellbeing, or to nutritious and wholesome options in your Christmas feast, here’s some tips and tricks to stay on track throughout the festivities!

Plan, prepare, execute!

Planning is never the wrong thing to do. Over the festive season, take some time to sit down and plan – mark down your upcoming dinners, gatherings and parties and set yourself some food and drink priorities. This may include to limit your alcohol consumption, consume proteins and vegetables or stick to healthy snacks and nibbles. By writing or setting these goals into stone, it will help prevent overindulgence and overeating but still allow you to still enjoy yourself stay on track with your existing eating habits!

Trying to plan a gathering or meal? Incorporate some healthier options into your upcoming family lunch or dinner whilst showing off your skills in the kitchen! Here’s a few delicious and nutritious recipe ideas for your Christmas banquet:

  • Confit salmon with lemon and parsley salsa served with sweet potato fries
  • Roasted shitake mushrooms and chili-garlic green beans
  • Pork tenderloin chops on a quinoa pilaf
  • Mediterranean pomegranate-honey glazed chicken and butternut squash
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Chocolate beetroot cake (don’t hate it till you try it – Jamie Oliver is a professional chef for a reason!)

Don’t stop moving!

The festive season is no excuse to stop being active! Minimise time spent on the couch watching Christmas TV specials and encourage the whole family to get out and about. Take advantage of the festivities to spice up your fitness routine and physical activity – exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym! Here’s a few fun ideas and activities for you and your friends or family do this holiday:

  • Backyard cricket or soccer
  • Beach volleyball or frisbee
  • Dancing (bonus point if it’s at a Christmas party!)
  • And don’t worry! Cooking up a storm counts as physical activity!

The end of the year is also a fantastic time to try something new, with the Australian summer allowing various water sports and recreation activities to take place as well as being the season for cricket, beach volleyball, swimming and more! Cool off in the heat and perhaps pick up a new hobby by learning to surf, paddle-board or water-ski!

Snack wisely!

While you’re eating carb-heavy and calorific meals throughout the festive season, try to be more aware and mindful of your snacking by choosing healthier options. Be conscious of the number and type of snacks you consume, particularly between meals. Indulge on seasonal fruits instead such as cherries and berries and try to leave mince pieces, gingerbread and puddings till Christmas Day. Enjoy vegetable sticks, hummus and tzatziki dips and frittatas and limit the candy, chips and cake slices.

Going to a cocktail event where canapés will be served? Snack on some plain or Greek yoghurt and a banana before you go – yoghurt proteins help slow digestion and minimise alcohol absorption whilst the high levels of potassium in a banana help balance increased salt intake from olives, crackers and nuts. The snack will also make you less likely to grab everything you see and be more aware of the portions you’re consuming.

Finally, remember that alcohol is high in calories and low in nutrition. Manage your alcohol intake this holiday season by drinking water or other liquids before alcohol, using low-sugar mixers and avoiding salty snacks which increase thirst levels.

There are many ways for you to keep up a healthy lifestyle even through the festive season. By performing small changes such as planning your eating at events, staying active and snacking healthily, you can avoid the post-holiday guilt trip and kickstart your 2022 feeling great and ready to go!

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