5 ways to keep your health on track this holiday season


The festive season is fast-approaching and alongside it, excitement at the prospect of rest, recovery and fun times. This time of the year can also mean overindulging in many food temptations and breaking a regular exercise routine. These changes in our usual habits can cause guilt, stress, unwanted weight gain and can even worsen our health. Keep your waistline in check without spoiling the fun with these 5 tips.

1. Strike a balance

In the greater context, a couple of unhealthier meals will not make a big difference. However, falling into bad habits over 2 to 3 weeks can cause weight gain, ruin any progress made during the year,  and make getting back to your healthy habits that much harder. Avoid an all-or-nothing approach. The key is to strike a good balance between a well-deserved holiday whilst still looking after your health.

Social gatherings and delicious meals can be enjoyed without being overly restrictive and ruining the fun, but choose splurges wisely. Select the times when you will eat more decadently and plan for them by compensating with healthier and lighter meals around them. If you know there is a delicious dessert coming, then have smaller portions in your main meal. Still aim for a balanced meal that includes vegetables, salads or fresh summer fruits.

2. Be mindful not mindless

Mindful eating helps you to gain control over your eating habits, avoid weight gain and prevent binge eating. It simply involves giving your full attention to your eating experiences, cravings and feelings of hunger or fullness. This means firstly asking yourself how hungry you really are and what portion sizes should you be serving. Then during your meal, eat slowly, appreciate your food, and pay attention to the taste, smell and textures, savoring each bite instead of racing to finish your meal. Mindful eating also involves checking in with yourself throughout the meal to see if you are full and should stop eating. Beware of mindlesseating –  snacking on chocolates, chips or leftover cake, just because it’s available or you’re bored!

3. Maintain some routine

For many, the summer holidays means sleeping in and breaking away from the year’s fast-paced routine. This extra rest is well deserved but can make maintaining healthy habits challenging. Continue some parts of your usual healthy routine, which will provide a greater sense of control. This could mean your morning run or walk, drinking lots of water or sticking to your usual healthy breakfast.

4. Keep moving

To make sure you don’t pack on those unwanted kilos, it’s important to fit in physical activity during the holidays. Consuming more food and drinks whilst burning less energy is a sure recipe for weight gain. No need to stick to your same weekly gym schedule though. Make it fun and include family or friends by playing games such as touch rugby or beach bats, go for a swim or enjoy walks or hikes together in nature if you’re visiting a scenic place.

5. Sip smarter

Be wise about what you choose to drink this December, keeping in mind that sugary drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic drinks all contain extra kilojoules which quickly add up. Always keep a jug of cold water on the table filled with fresh sliced fruit and ice. If you are watching your weight, choose alcoholic options which are lower in sugar and energy such as dryer wines, spirits with water or a sugar free mix , or reduced kilojoule beers or wines. Savor your drink, enjoying each sip as well as the company, instead of drinking mindlessly and too quickly.

Whatever you choose to drink, do so in moderation. Avoid binge drinking and aim for a few alcohol-free days per week. And remember, don’t drink and drive!

Happy holidays!


Written December 2017

Picture of beach toys by str, S.Jastrzebski on Wikimedia Commons