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Have a jolly healthy Christmas: 11 tips to keep fit during holidays

Every year we promise ourselves to do our best and keep fit during Christmas holidays. However, once in front of the dining table, with all the toasts and the chatter, every good intention vanishes and appetite and the gluttony possess us.

This does not just happen during Christmas lunch or New Year's Eve dinner. The Christmas period is a real gastronomic marathon, which can last up to 4 or 5 weeks, from mid-December to January 7.

How best to deal with this challenge for the stomach (and not have to pay the consequences later)?
Treating yourself to a few guilty pleasures is not forbidden, but you need to be able to contain yourself and maintain a proper nutritional balance. Each of us should know the caloric intake of what we eat and remember not to exceed his/her daily caloric intake (which varies from person to person, according to parameters such as gender, age, metabolism, level of physical activity).

Let's keep in mind that a slightly "rich" meal can reach up to 4000 or 6000 calories (Kcal): twice or three times as many as we need on average for an entire day!

So, how can we enjoy some festive delicacies without getting fat?
The basic premise is that damage must be prevented: contrary to what we are often led to believe, in fact, there are no miraculous diets. Even the so-called "fat-burning" foods - those that would be able to eliminate the fat already taken - are but urban legends.

The most widespread is the false myth of the pineapple at the end of a meal: in fact, the pineapple contains bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme that destroys other proteins and has beneficial anti-inflammatory effects. However, it has – unfortunately - no slimming power.

the myth of slimming foods

11 tips for staying online during the holidays

To craft a defence strategy in view of the first banquets, here are some useful tips to maintain a diet as proper as possible even in the days of the festivities, without taking away from us the pleasure of Christmas food. And avoiding guilt too!

  1. 1. Eat traditional Christmas food, but with moderation
  2. 2. Add vegetables to your menu
  3. 3. Resist the temptation of ready meals
  4. 4. Pay attention to seasonings
  5. 5. Always treat yourself to a good breakfast
  6. 6. Alternating light meals with stuffier ones
  7. 7. Eat homemade cakes
  8. 8. Do not skip meals
  9. 9. Drink plenty of water
  10. 10. Do not raise the glass too much
  11. 11. Do physical activity

1. Eating traditional dishes is fine, but beware of quantity

Let’s be honest: we all know how some Christmas recipes, handed down from generation to generation, are often rich in fat. If we want to honour these cornerstones of our culinary culture, then we must limit the portions, possibly already during the preparation phase. In this way keep the caloric intake in check, you don't excessively weigh yourself down... and you avoid filling the fridge with "tempting leftovers".
traditional food is nice and fat

2. Vegetables: raw and cooked in the menu

Vegetables contain water and fibres that slow down the absorption of fats and sugars. Consuming a portion of them on opening and closing meal courses makes you feel fuller and helps not to exaggerate with the next courses.

A great holiday lunch, for example, could start with a delicious but healthy mix of vegetables in vinaigrette, a carpaccio of mushrooms and artichokes or a salad of raw cabbage.

In particular, foods such as chards, chicory, artichokes and all those that fall into the category of the so-called "bitter vegetables" are excellent allies of our body and of those organs put to the test by holiday feasts, such as the liver - our filter, which processes and distributes nutrients - and the intestine.

These vegetables help the metabolism and digestion, facilitating the action of liver enzymes thanks to a substance called silymarin and thus helping to avoid the unpleasant aftermath of Christmas meals, including constipation, swelling and problems with the intestinal microbiota, the bacterial flora of our intestines.

Vegetabes fill you up and facilitate digestion

3. Resist the call of the rotisserie

Even the laziest and least organized person can make it: home cooking, which allows you to use quality seasonal products, fresh and genuine, as well as lighter cooking methods, is always to be preferred to ready meals, often very elaborate and abundantly seasoned.

So, watch out for the expenses incurred in the wake of the enthusiasm of the rotisserie next door: it is better to indulge in but a few ready meals, and while instead buying fresh ingredients to create the dishes of your holiday meals with our hands. For the less brave ones, there are dozens of excellent recipes to follow, suitable for any skill level.

4. Pay attention to condiments

It is well known that you should never exaggerate with cream, butter, béchamel, mayonnaise and the like: even during the holidays, it is good to prefer the classic extra virgin olive oil, possibly raw, perhaps with the addition of a little freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Never abound with salt, as it raises blood pressure and promotes water retention. To flavour the dishes, it is better to focus on spices, perhaps recovering the typical aromas of Christmas cooking, such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, saffron and cloves, which are also useful to facilitate the digestive processes.

It's better not to exaggerate with high caloric seasonings

5. Always treat yourself to a good breakfast

Even on the most "demanding" days from a gastronomic point of view, breakfast is essential: we need it to revive the metabolism after the night hours. Some typical foods of the holiday period, such as mandarins and pomegranates, are perfect even in the early morning, to be combined with dried fruit such as dates, nuts and hazelnuts, and with yogurt and whole grain cereals.
it's always better not to skip meals
Very important, then, is to start the day with a hot drink, for example tea, barley, a herbal tea, or even water with bitter cocoa powder. This action stimulates the gastro-cholic reflex, a natural process that facilitates the expulsion of old food from the colon, helping the work of the intestine.

6. Alternating loads

In the days between one banquet and the next, it will not be an effort to stay light, putting on the table soups or broths, steamed fish and white meats or baked in foil, foods that should constitute a regular presence in a balanced diet, throughout the year. Even refined flours, the basis of many Christmas recipes, should be avoided: instead, try using cereals and wholemeal flours, which have a higher nutritional value and help to reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
A soup or a broth to lighten up the meals

7. Yes to traditional desserts, if homemade

It is not compulsory to give up the gingerbread biscuits or the mug of eggnog, but it is better to choose homemade products, without adding industrial creams, chocolate or liqueurs and, preferably, avoid eating them after dinner, when they are heavier to digest.

Alternatives? A spoon dessert based on red fruits and blueberries, which fight the free radicals responsible for aging, or a fresh seasonal fruit sorbet.

9. Drink plenty of water

Water, as you know, is good for you: it helps to eliminate toxins naturally and facilitates digestion and intestinal transit. It is, therefore, even more valuable when we are subjected to a great deal of discomfort.

To enjoy drinking away from meals, in addition to natural water we have other excellent allies. Green and red teas are rich, among other things, in natural antioxidants, promote digestion and also act on the liver, hindering the accumulation of fat. The infusion of gymnema leaves (Gymnema sylvestre), an ayurvedic plant called "sugar inhibitors", is a valuable help to reduce blood sugar levels.

Raise the glass in a healthy manner
Excellent for closing meals (even the most demanding ones) are the classic herbal teas such as fennel, linden and mallow, useful to relax the body and facilitate the digestive processes.

Consuming them after eating is a healthy habit for all seasons, not just during Christmas holidays.

10. Restricting alcohol and sugary drinks

A glass of wine for a meal or sparkling wine is equivalent to about 90 kcal. However, if during the holidays you can not give up the ritual toasts, a good idea may be to alternate between non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, to moderate consumption of wine and beer. Tomato juice, for example, is a valid alternative for a healthy and tasty aperitif.

11. Make movement

During Christmas and New Year, as at any other time, the only way to balance excess calories is through physical activity.
Exercise is everything
If all year round we should exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes a day and adopt healthy habits, such as choosing the stairs instead of the elevator and prefer to move on foot whenever commitments allow, when the holidays give us extra time, it is wise for us to devote a part of it to fitness and sport preferred.

It will avoid any sense of guilt ... and will help to make us spend pleasant holidays!

The Pyramid of Wellness  Lifestyle is a visual guide developed by the Wellness Foundation in collaboration with the Research and Development Department of Technogym, which details in a simple graph all the components that contribute to the achievement of psycho-physical well-being through three main drives: movement, nutrition and, indeed, mental approach.

If diet and exercise increase in quantity and complexity, the pyramid proposes the correct complementary dosage of movement and nutrition over a typical week: from what you need to practice or take more frequently, to what is useful, but serves less. The mental approach is necessary for a balanced life based on constant exercise and proper nutrition.

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