How to be mindful of your health during the holidays

Christmas can be a hard time to stick to your dietary habits – especially for those living with chronic conditions.

Associate Professor Yasmine Probst is a Research Fellow at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI). Her focus is on nutrition and dietetics managing disease, with a current focus on Multiple Sclerosis.

“In a celebration like Christmas, food is often the focus. We are trying to catch up with so many family and friends, and eating together is a nice way to do that. That can mean having foods we don’t recommend eating on a regular basis,” says Yasmine.

“If you are hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner, make sure you have some nice fresh salads for people to choose, not just all the high-calorie options,” she says.

Yasmine says that planning ahead is the best way to make sure you don’t regret your eating on Christmas Day.

“If you have a condition and you know you have multiple people to see over the Christmas period, think about how much you’re going to eat at each visit. It could be as simple as going for the veggies instead of the creamy dishes,” says Yasmine. 

Many Australians consume alcohol with their Christmas lunch, which can impact people living with chronic conditions.

“Alcohol is generally high in calories and low in many important vitamins and minerals. If you have been recently diagnosed with a chronic condition it is important that you speak to your doctor as alcohol can interfere with some medications. In those instances it might be worth trying a zero alcohol beverage. They taste the same, but don’t feature the alcohol. Be careful though as most are still high in calories,” she says.

While a healthy lifestyle is important for those with or without chronic conditions, there is flexibility, and we shouldn’t let diet dictate our holidays.

“It’s a matter of balance, whether you have a chronic condition or not. It’s more a case of reminding yourself, ‘yes, I have eaten a lot more today than I normally would, but what can I do to help with that?’ Going for a walk with your family after dinner is a good way to help burn off some of that energy you’ve consumed throughout the day,” she says.

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