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Articles Stay healthy during the silly season
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Staying healthy during the silly season

healthy holiday

It’s easy to get distracted by festive activities and let our healthy habits fall by the wayside. Read our guide to staying on track and enjoying the season…

Exercise and Meditation

The countdown to December 25 is on. How are you coping?

We asked some of our knowledgeable Health Partners contributors for their best advice to getting through the Christmas season while staying happy, healthy and still ho-ho-ho-ing!

Nathan Chesterfield, Senior Exercise Physiologist with iNform Health and Fitness
Actively schedule and commit to an exercise session on Christmas Day and again on Boxing Day. Don’t leave it to chance or an ‘after lunch stroll’ during the festive period.
Aim to remain active during a time that often includes reduced physical activity. You’ll reduce the ‘lag’ effect on your training and set up good behaviour so you will hit the ground running when the New Year rolls around.

Stephanie Noon from Live Life Coaching
“During busy times like Christmas, it is even more important to do a daily ‘mindfulness meditation’. All you need to find is 10 minutes and a quiet spot. Sit, relax and focus on your breath or follow a guided mindfulness meditation, there are many free on the Internet or app store.
Learn about mindfulness and its benefits here

Tanya Lewis, Accredited Practising Dietician, Sports Dietician and Director of Life Personal Trainers
“Slow down! Christmas is often a rushed time and this can contribute to overindulgence. Eating slowly and mindfully can help you appreciate your friends, family and prevent overdoing it.”

Kristin Lewis, Director of Life Personal Trainers
At this time of the year, people are tired and looking forward to a break. As a result, we often lack the energy to stick to the goals we have been working towards for 11 months – and all that good work is at risk with a four-week splurge. Here are my tips for keeping focused:

  • Set yourself some short term health goals to keep on track for December
  • Keep up your regular exercise sessions. Typically you will be eating and drinking more during this time, so exercising to balance extra consumption becomes even more important.
  • Look at the Christmas period as a time to ‘maintain’ rather than ‘improve’ your health. This may sound like an unusual goal, but ‘maintaining’ is preferable to going backwards. You will be poised to strike when you return from your Christmas break – reinvigorated and ready for the next year

Smoking

The festive season is a wonderful time to catch up with friends, eat out and have fun. It is also a difficult time for people on the ‘quit journey’ – and ‘social smokers’ wanting to avoid smoking too much. Dr Terry Evans, Quit SA Coordinator of Cessation Services, says that great support is available to help you stay on track.

Quitline 13 7848 is a free telephone advisory service available around Australia at the cost of a local call. If you need help planning to quit, coping with withdrawal, getting past cravings, or coping with difficult situations, call the Quitline and speak to a trained Quit counsellor, or you can go to our website and register for a call at a time and day that suits you. All callers are offered a Quit book.

Many people find that their main support comes from family and friends. Get your family to read the Quit book too, so they’ll understand more about what you’re going through. Ask them to support you, even when things get tough.
Social smokers have more opportunities to smoke at this time of year, which can lead to an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Dr Evans says that this can be very risky for those smokers who may transition to becoming daily smokers as nicotine addiction takes hold and behavioural patterns become stronger.

“If you have a cigarette while you drink coffee, have a beer or finish a meal, over the years these links become stronger and stronger. When you quit, you need to be very aware of these links to behaviour, because this is when you’ll miss cigarettes,” he said.

If you think you are a ‘social smoker’, why not take this questionnaire to test your addiction – you may be surprised.

Don’t forget that you can call the Quitline 137848 throughout the Christmas period. The service is open every day except for public holidays. You can also leave a message for a call back when the service opens again.

Food and Drink

Roast potatoes, brandy pudding, candy canes and a glass of bubbly… with temptations around every corner, the festive season is one of the hardest times to keep to your healthy eating plan. Accredited dietitian and nutritionist, Nicole Moore, Senior Dietitian and Managing Director from Menu Concepts says that it doesn’t have to be that way.

“You don’t have to starve yourself of festive fun to keep fit and healthy,” says Nicole.
“The trick is to make some healthy swaps. The weather is perfect for venturing outdoors and exercising and there is a range of delicious fresh fruits and veggies ready to be eaten.”
“At your summer BBQ, swap fatty meats for grilled fish and green salad. Seafood is low in fat and high in protein and omega 3, which your heart and hips thank you for,” she said.

Here are five quick tips on how to enjoy a healthy Christmas dinner.

A cold salad or soup, like gazpacho, or just a large chilled glass of water before a meal can assist you to feel full.

  1. Put more veggies on the table, like cucumber, tomato and broccoli. These are low in energy, but full of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
    You can still enjoy the traditional Christmas roast, let the fat drip away from your meats and use a light spray of oil on vegetables to roast them. Or use some low kilojoule gravy, avoid crackling and load up with the vegetables. Nicole suggests an aim of 50 per cent of your plate made up of vegetables, excluding potato.
  2. For dessert, try frozen yoghurt, fruit sorbet, low sugar fat free ice cream served with low GI fruit like frozen berries, or a sugar-free, low-fat pudding.
  3. If you’re going to drink, try a white-based spirit like vodka or gin with a diet soft drink or ice instead of alcoholic sodas, add a fresh slice of lime and/or mint to dress it up.

Christmas is a time to enjoy life’s little luxuries, so you can allow yourself a few extra treats. Nicole says if you’re on a healthy eating plan, even if you double your treat allowance you are still likely to maintain your weight — much better than gaining the average 3-kilo Christmas bulge. It’s also particularly important to drink lots of water and stick to a regular exercise routine throughout summer.

If you do overindulge, Nicole’s number one tip is – don’t panic! “Be positive, do the best you can and focus on what you can control, like portions, activity levels and water intake. Remember, every minute is a new minute so get back on track straight away. Do not wait until tomorrow or worse, until Christmas is over.”

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