I’m a bit late jumping on the “healthy holiday” tips bandwagon but I felt it was my duty to share some of my thoughts and ideas on how to have a great relaxed stress free Christmas the healthy way!
I’ve spent more Christmases’ than I care to admit or need to remember stressed, anxious and in my own world of negativity. I used to build up the day in my head as if it would be the day to solve all my problems, that I would be able to approach food in a whole new way, sit back and relax and finally overcome my issues with food. It never quite turned out like that of course!
Last year I felt at ease, happy to just enjoy spending time with family, grateful for the fact that I really good enjoy my food and not have any residual guilt and even more appreciative that I’d overcome my binge eating demons that left me feeling quite ill over the holiday season a few years running. Even in the depths of anorexia I completely abused Christmas time and looked upon it as my one day or couple of days to go “mad” and that’s quite literally what I did. Completely lost the plot only to end up feeling even more anxious, stressed and frustrated with myself.
Man am I glad those days are over! Enough of the negativity! Although I do firmly believe Christmas is a time to let go a little, I’ve always been a bit of an all or nothing sort of person so going to any sort of extremes just doesn’t work for me be it with alcohol or food. Hence I make sure to incorporate everything I fancy throughout the year. Saving up for dessert or eating an extra special meal on Christmas day just isn’t for me; I eat amazing delicious nutritious food every single day and never feel deprived.
Of course I will whip up something tasty for dinner…more than likely my vegan lentil walnut loaf, and dessert will be on the cards – but that ain’t anything unusual!
For those of you feeling slightly panicked about the holidays I urge you to try and take a step back and put it in perspective. Here are my top ten tips to come out of the holiday season feeling revived, refreshed and ready to embrace the New Year and all the potential opportunities it may bring! I’ve also included some tips on how to navigate the holidays as a vegan, dealing with questions and potential criticism and making sure you have food to eat at gatherings.
Staying Healthy and Happy over Christmas
- Remember it’s just one day. Christmas is a great time to spend with friends and family but if you don’t have that opportunity don’t fret. It’s one day, just like any other and it all doesn’t have to be as rosy and glossy as the Christmas cards. Make the most of what you have, the people that are around you and enjoy it for what it is.
- Relax. Let Christmas be a rest day.I’m a stickler for routine myself and in all honesty would love nothing more than a good spinning class or a long run on Christmas morning but I also know that it’s good to have a rest, to sit back and relax sometimes! If nothing else let the holidays, at least one or two of the days, be a time to step out of your routine a little, even if it is a challenge!
- Don’t feel under pressure.We all do it, eating and drinking to please, afraid to offend the host that continually puts forward food and drink. Eat your favourite foods until your satisfied and save leftovers for later! It’s not worth feeling bloated, sluggish and hungover.
- Drink plenty of water. Whether your planning on over indulging in food or your favourite tipple, drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated as well as easing digestion. It’s all to easy to rush around preparing Christmas morning, glass or two of wine in hand only to end up feeling a little worse for wear before dinner time even comes around…we’ve all done it!
- Don’t skip meals. I was a the biggest culprit of this over years gone by…skipping meals in order to “save up calories” for a splurge later on. It stems from completely the wrong mind set and is a terrible approach altogether that is sure to leave you feeling starved, potentially guilty having overeaten the wrong sorts of foods and for some is a doorway in to a vicious cycle of an unhealthy relationship with food. Have breakfast, eat lunch, and enjoy whatever else comes your way! You’ll be in a much better position to judge when you feel satisfied if you arrive at a party or gathering with a relatively normal appetite!
Navigating the Holidays as a Vegan
- Explain but don’t get defensive.There will always be questions and queries from those that are genuinely interested and also those that feel the need to criticise and judge you upon the fact that you choose to be a vegan. Explain yourself clearly, be polite and try not to get defensive. Crack a joke if the situation gets intense or you feel cornered and remember your reasons for being vegan as it’s your own personal decision and that’s all that matters.
- Cook up your speciality. Create one of your favourite vegan dishes to have on hand both for bringing to a gathering or to feed your guests who stop by over the holidays. This will is a sure fire way to tame your critics!
This creamy coconut pistachio and broccoli soups is sure to win them over and is handy to have on standby for a midday snack or guests who pop in unannounced!
- Let people know in advance.If you’ve been invited somewhere and are worried that there won’t be anything suitable for you to eat rather than create embarrassment on the given day or evening let the host know in advance and offer to bring something along with you.
- Snack.If you don’t really know the host all to well, or perhaps you’re not sure who or when you’re going to be visiting have snacks and leftovers on hand to eat before you head out or whilst on the move. The last thing you want when your passing up food is a grumbling tummy that will only cause confusion and potential offense. If you say you’ve already eaten, let that really be the case.
- Veganise the classics. If you’re hosting don’t feel under pressure to serve up animal foods to your guests. You may want to pre warn them that their won’t be a turkey in the middle of the table but you can quite easily veganise the classics and incorporate all the wonderful flavours in to whatever dishes you choose to create. Those with an open mind will embrace it and the sceptics will be put to rest once they’ve been served up something tasty.
Maybe not what you’d consider a classic but it sure is a classic combination and a delicious treat for breakfast, a snack or served with your favourite warming drink; amazing cranberry, chocolate and cranberry scones. Adults and children alike are sure to love them! Who doesn’t love something homemade over the holidays as opposed to the standard biscuit that’s been sitting in a tin for months!