Christmas is just days away and the season of fun, food and festive indulgence is well and truly upon us.
Between the office parties, nights out with friends, visiting relatives and school nativity plays followed by mulled wine and Christmas canapés, it’s an uphill task trying to stick to any kind of healthy routine.

A Little Bit Of What You Fancy…

Of course, we’re not saying you should be sticking to your diet by the book at this time of year. The festive season is a time for unwinding with loved ones and enjoying a little bit of what you fancy. But it shouldn’t be an excuse to let that waistline widen too much! It’s the ‘little bit’ that tends to be a problem, with one cocktail turning into five and a single Quality Street toffee penny turning into the whole tin – enjoying food and alcohol in moderation at Christmas is a real challenge.

Beat the Festive Bloat

Overindulging in food and booze, combined with a lack of exercise and too many late nights, means people find themselves overly full, lethargic and tipping the scales at an unhealthy weight by the time they’re ringing in the New Year.

Top Five Tips

It is possible to beat the festive bloat though. Simply follow our top five tips for staying happy and healthy during Christmas:

1. Cut Out the Cocktails

As delicious as they are, cocktails are high in alcohol and packed with calorie-laden,  sugary fruit juices, carbonated drinks and liquors, which can quickly pile on the pounds. Alcohol also causes low blood sugar levels and dehydration, which increases your appetite, and causes you to binge on unhealthy snacks after a night out. If you do fancy an alcoholic drink, opt for a couple of red wines, spirits with a diet mixer. This will work wonders for your waistline and help you to avoid overeating unnecessarily.

2. Snack Before You Party

Turn up at a Christmas party without having eaten a healthy, balanced and filling snack first and you’ll be guaranteed to overindulge at the festive buffet.
It’s tempting to ‘save yourself’ ahead of a big festive party, but instead of skipping meals, eat four to six smaller ones, containing both fibre and protein, throughout the day. This will keep you fuller for longer and will curb your appetite, so you won’t eat too many calorific canapés or overeat at that Christmas meal.

3. Don’t Forget to Exercise

It’s easy for even the most hardened gym bunny to turn into a couch potato over the festive break, with cold, dark nights, altered gym opening hours and guests to look after. However, it’s important to make time for physical activity. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week, such as walking to the shops, walking the dog or doing some simple exercises at home. Not only will this keep your weight down, but it will also help to shake off feelings of lethargy and beat those winter blues.

4. Slow Down

The pace picks up at Christmas, with so much to do and so many people to see. It’s no wonder the same seems to happen when you’re eating. However, if you eat too quickly, your stomach needs to work harder to digest the food, increasing the chance of swallowing air and causing bloating.
Make sure you slow down, chew each mouthful thoroughly and savour your food. This will mean you enjoy every bite, as well as reduce bloating and avoid overeating.

5. Relax and Have Fun

Christmas can be stressful, but only if you let it be. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make everything perfect, accept that things will go wrong and try not to worry about it. If you feel anger or stress levels rising, find somewhere calm to clear your head. Take a walk or talk through your troubles with a friend – just don’t let it stew. Once you’ve got it off your chest you’ll be able to really enjoy your festive break.

How are you staying healthy and beating the seasonal blues? Share your top tips by tweeting us @Medicash or telling us about them on our Facebook page.