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Is it possible to eat, drink, be merry AND stay healthy this Christmas?

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Unless you are a born again scrooge, you can't help but have noticed that 'tis the season to be jolly. And being "jolly", as we all know, usually entails merry-making with the help of scrummy mince pies, tasty turkey dinner with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding to boot.

In fact, according to dieticians, the average person consumes roughly 6,000 calories on Christmas Day - that's three times the average guideline daily allowance for women.

So, should you simply give up and accept that December is a time when you're destined to have an overly large belly that wobbles like a bowl full of jelly? Or can you be merry without taking on the appearance of Santa himself?

Take food out of focus

Our most important piece of advice would be to avoid making food the entire focus of your day. Focus instead on having fun.

Yes, fun can be had at the dinner table as you indulge in some of the finer things in life. But stay at the table too long and you will quickly find yourself picking at food your stomach doesn't really want or need.

Instead, organise an afternoon activity to maximise enjoyment on the big day and take away the temptation to snack continuously. And the same goes for the rest of the festive season, when meals tend to take a more calorific approach.

Need a little help? Here are some fun activitiesto chalk up on your list this December:

- Dancing – From the office Xmas party to a family Christmas Day, get some songs playing and encourage yourself to stay on your feet. Believe it or not but a gentle dance can still burn off a significant number of calories.

- Ice Skating – it’s fun for all the family, extremely festive and extremely healthy (as long as you don’t fall over too much).

- Conversation – while eating meals,make sure you indulge not only in the food but also in having fun with the family. Enjoy Christmas crackers, jokes and funny stories – all of this will slow down your eating, ultimately allowing you to get full quicker, on less food.

- Party Games – it’s a time for celebrating so do it in style by playing as many active games as possible. Musical statues, musical chairs, pretty much any game – the more fun you’re having and the more excited you are, the more likely you are to be burning any excess calories and not eating.


Plan out your partying

The Christmas period in general is a time for parties, celebrations and indulgence. Try and be selective about which days you plan on letting yourself go. If you pick specific days, like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and the work Christmas party and indulge on these days then you can attempt to eat well and stay active in between.

For the big day itself we have a collection of vital tips for maximising healthiness amidst this storm of gluttony:

  1. Eat a good breakfast – you will be less likely to snack before dinner.
  2. While eating your Christmas dinner make sure you eat an average-sized portion and then take a 20-minute break. It usually takes around 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so after the break you’ll know whether you need to eat more or not.
  3. Eat plenty of nuts and dried fruit – they’re an excellent source ofironandzincwhich can help in your production of digestive acids, the lack of which is a common cause of indigestion.
  4. Try including pineapple in your dessert. Pineapple is a source of bromelin which is an enzyme which can aid the digestion of protein, namely your Christmas turkey.
  5. Stick to turkey over other birds such as duck and goose. Turkey is a much leaner meat, having much less unhealthy fat.
  6. Also, if like most excellent cooks you use the juices form your meat to make the gravy for your Christmas dinner, make sure you let the gravy stand before serving it. The fat will settle on the top meaning you can skim it off to reduce calories without sacrificing flavour.
  7. Lastly, try steaming vegetables instead of boiling them, this way they will retain more of their health vitamins and nutrients.
It is also important to remember just how much alcohol can contribute to your calorie intake over Christmas. If you cannot imagine your Christmas without it, there are some simple measures to take to lessen the blow. First, swap beer for spritzers for a much smaller calorie intake.

Consider diluting wines and spirits with water and ice and make sure that for every drink you have, have a non-alcoholic juice or glass of water in between.

Last but most certainly not least, as a way of ensuring you don’t over-do it this Christmas to the point of no return, try starting an exercise regime in December. This can involve anything as little as going for a jog a couple days a week, walking more often or a more extreme gym regime.

Manypeople make getting fit an intangible and unreachable New Year’s resolution but starting off with even the smallest routine in December sets you in good stead for keeping it up or even upping your game in January.

Suffering from more serious weight issues and are worried that things are only getting worse this Winter? Why not consult your pharmacist today on the best weight control and weight loss options.