Christmas and New Year's is a time when many of us forget our healthy habits and over-indulge in food and alcohol. While it is a time to celebrate, often we start on December 1st instead of December 25th. For most people it’s the increase social activities and a disruption in normal routine that means that are eating and drinking more, and exercising and sleeping less. By New Year's Day it’s easy to already be feeling sluggish and tired instead of motivated and inspired. The viscous cycle can easily continue to Australia Day, unless you put a plan in place.
The good news is that there are many things you can do in order to stay healthy during the silly season. Here are my top ten:
- When it comes to parties, arrive full and well hydrated. This will ensure you will be less tempted to over indulge on the deep fried canapes and champagne.
- Make the best choice possible – chose chicken skewers, sushi and meatballs instead of anything deep fried. When it comes to alcohol, minimise your sugar intake by avoiding cocktails and champagne, and choose vodka, lime and soda instead, should you need to drink.
- Swap every second alcohol beverage for water or soda water. Add some fresh lime and everyone will think you’re still drinking vodka!
- Volunteer to be designed driver. Your friends will love the fact that they are saving money on taxi/uber fares.
- 80/20. You’re allowed to indulge a little, but 80% of the time you need to be eating well, minimizing your alcohol, hitting the gym and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Create balance. If you have indulged the night before, you can allocate a light day of eating to follow, to create balance across the week. A breakfast of chia pudding, a roasted vegetable salad with boiled eggs for lunch, and grilled fish and vegetables for dinner will definitely get you back on track. Ramp up the exercise and aim to go for a run or attend a hot yoga class where you will sweat out some of the toxins as well.
- Keep your routine. Commit to 3-4 exercise sessions per week, regardless of how busy your social calendar becomes.
- Stay active. Structured exercise is great, but often the additional benefits come from incidental exercise. Commute to work, walk during your lunch break, use a stand up desk and do your best to hit 10,000 steps per day. You can even suggest to meet a friend for a walk or coffee instead of a wine!
- Prepare. No matter what time of the year, food preparation will play a huge role in your success. Allocate an hour on Sunday to prepare chia puddings, roast vegetables and boiled eggs for the week and you won’t be anywhere near as tempted by the chocolate and cake floating around the office.
- BYO. Why not make some healthy refined sugar free cakes to share with your work mates or take to a party? That way you won’t feel like you’re missing out when the sweets come out, and you can spread the love the real food doesn’t need to be boring and bland. Try our Mini Cacao Christmas Cakes - they surprise even the biggest cynic!
Mini Cacao Christmas Cakes
Ingredients (Makes 12)
- 6 eggs, free range
- 400ml coconut cream
- ½ cup cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup organic rice malt syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 1 orange, zested
- 8 Medjool dates, pitted
- 150g cashews, soaked for 2 hours & drained
- 400g almond meal
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons cacao
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 150g dried fruit – we used a mixture of cranberries, sultanas & goji berries
- 50g flaked almonds
- Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper patty cases.
- Beat the eggs, coconut cream, coconut oil, rice malt syrup and vanilla bean paste together for 4 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- In a food processor, place dates and cashews and blitz until roughly chopped.
- Add in remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
- Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Gently fold through the dried fruit and spoon evenly into the patty cases and top with flaked almonds.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until they pass the skewer test. Let cakes cool in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack.
Don't be afraid of a little dried fruit at Christmas - it's what you do every day that counts, not what you do every once and a while.