Festive Wellness Tips
I’ve already shared some helpful tips on managing other people at Christmas time in my Vegan Christmas Survival tips blog. But what about yourself?? We all know that the idea behind Christmas time is to spread love, cheer and selflessness. Yet the late nights, last minute Christmas shopping, chaotic crowds and end of year deadlines can leave you drained and resentful. When this happens our health takes the back seat as nourishing eating routines and positive mindsets are first to be sacrificed. So below are my top strategies to maintain wellness and a sense on sanity during this crazy time.
Remember, you can’t give from an empty cup!
1. Go easy on grog
Over the Christmas season make sure you include some alcohol-free days and try festive non-alcoholic drinks like ruby red spritzers, festive chai, green juices, matcha lattes, golden elixirs or kombucha.
And of course stay hydrated in the heat with plenty of water (including sparkling mineral water) and herbal teas. Drinking your calories with sugary and milky drinks quickly adds up the calories but tends to lack all the awesome nutrients you get from eating whole foods.
2. Enjoy Christmas Day but don’t make it Christmas Month
Allow yourself access to all foods on the day, but remember it’s one day of the year. Putting your body through extremes of excessive eating and then trying compensate in January with New Years resolutions will slow your metabolism and drive you crazy in the meantime, like an elastic band that snaps back twice as hard when pulled beyond it’s capacity.
Consistency is the key to balance. Eat well (wholefoods, plant-based) 90% of the time and have 10% allowance for ‘mind foods’ that are perhaps not so nutritious but make you happy and feel balanced.
3. Honor hunger and fullness
How often do you eat just because there is food on the table in front of you, or because someone else is eating?
Be mindful of non-hungry cues to eat and don’t fall victim to social pressures to eat because it’s expected of you. Likewise, don’t starve yourself because you have a big festive meal coming up.
When it’s true hunger (physical and mental bodily cues) then allow yourself, and make time to eat.
When you’re full (ie your stomach is comfortably full and satisfied but you could still walk around the room without needing a nap or wanting to puke) then stop eating, even if there’s food left on your plate or you’re being pressured to eat more. You’re the only one who knows how hungry or full you are and you know best, so respect and LOVE that.
My colleague Claire Marnane has written a whole blog article about Intuitive Eating at Christmas.
4. Find social ways to stay active with friends
So much of our socialising around Christmas time is focused on food, which is definitely enjoyable, but certainly not the only way to enjoy spending time with family and friends.
Suggest doing active social events with friends and family like beach and picnic days, tennis, bike riding, swimming, or playing with the little ones new toys.
Or take some quiet time for making home-made presents or wrapping, or make your own Christmas cards – the kids love these crafty activities as an escape from the hot summer days!
Use your social occasions as an opportunity to try something new you’ve been meaning to do such as rock climbing, dancing, a weekender to the blue mountains (including bush walks), table tennis, backyard footy, escape rooms. There are so many options but you get the point – get those endorphins and team bonding going!
5. Enjoy an array of colourful plant foods
One of the fun things about celebration foods is they can be a great way to get some colour on your plate!
Choose dishes in festive colours made from red, yellow and green fruits and veggies. Light up your plate and your senses.
Think festive salads, juices, smoothies, bakes, rice paper rolls, Buddha bowls and the like.
If you need some inspiration to get you going, I’ve compiled a long list of My Favourite Festive Plant- based (Vegan) Recipes including mains, sides, salads, desserts and drinks!
6. Practice Self-love
As I mentioned, this is a hectic time of year let’s be honest. Ironically all that selflessness and socialising can make life frantic and stressful, which can cause good food and lifestyle habits to go by the way side. It can also make you swap MERRY CHRISTMAS for BAH HUMBUG!!
I repeat again:
spreading love, joy and cheer starts with you first, as you can’t give from an empty cup
So be kind to your body rather than putting it through extremes, by making room in your schedule for you. Set up self-care rituals such as:
- drinking herbal tea after a busy day
- listening to your favourite music/podcast/meditation
- getting some fresh air in nature, or sink your toes into the grass or sand
- having a spa treatment (in a salon or DIY), or better yet make this weekly during the month of December
- watching your favourite movie/TV series
- read a good book or magazine that allows you to unwind
- dance and play, try acro yoga or a latin dance class
- nurture yourself with a long shower or hot bubble bath, or soak your feet in a tub of epsom salts and essential oils
7. Make Sleep Sacred
Setting up a good sleep ritual over this month is paramount to wellness. I’m not pretending late nights are unavoidable at this time of year. I’m saying be realistic about it and make a contingency plan. Sleep can go by the way side during the festive season, which can disrupt hunger and fullness cues and lead to overeating to compensate for low energy the next day.
Try to compensate for late nights by having an early night the day/s after or before. Or if this is unrealistic then make the most of afternoon siestas or cat naps to catch up on lost sleep. You’re body will thank you!
Wishing you love and self care over the festive season
So you have it – some wellness tips to help with evocative festive food politics and also to help you maintain wellness during this crazy month!
What self-care tricks do you use to support yourself through the silly season?
Wishing you lots of love, and cheers to the end of 2018 and start of the marvelous New Year!
By vegan plant-based dietitian (APD) Amber Sewell-Green
Photo credits from top to bottom: Valerie Foltz, librariansarah, jill111, Taliesi, Heirloom Tomatoes. Image source: Nisha rainbowplantlife, Parée, ThoughtCatalog, dream-37407