How to stay healthy at Christmas in Switzerland
Christmas in Switzerland can be like a fairytale, but there are some aspects of the holiday season that can leave you feeling overstimulated, overwhelmed and tired. Here are some of the best ways you can stay happy and healthy during Christmas in Switzerland!
How to avoid overeating tasty Swiss Christmas food
Swiss food is truly delicious and at Christmas, as are even more great treats to try! From Raclette and Fondue Chinoise to Filet im Teig and lots of Swiss chocolate, it can be really tempting to gorge yourself on these mouth-watering delicacies.
However, overeating can quickly make you feel sluggish and tired. Consuming food that contains large amounts of sugar such as chocolate or cookies can make your blood sugar spike and dip too, giving you rushes and crashes of energy that can leave you feeling a little disorientated.
To avoid this, it can be helpful to have smaller portion sizes so that you can pace yourself. You can use smaller plates and go back for seconds and thirds if you need to, that way your plate is still filled, but you’re still able to pace yourself. Another option is to pair some of the heavier traditional Swiss Christmas foods with lighter side dishes such as salad or fruit, that way you can retain a healthy balanced diet over the holiday season and avoid sending yourself into a food coma!
How much alcohol is okay to drink over the holiday season?
On the subject of fuelling your body right, there’s always the question of alcohol at this time of year. While many of us might plan to compensate for our Christmas tipples by participating in “dry January'', the healthier way to consume alcohol is by sticking to the limits recommended by doctors in Switzerland.
The Swiss government has published official guidelines on how much alcohol adults can intake safely. The recommended daily alcohol limit for women is two glasses of alcohol (which in this context means an average "serving" of alcohol at a restaurant), with the limit for men being three. Of course, it goes without saying that you should also take care and be sure not to do any dangerous activities such as driving, cycling or operating machinery after consuming alcohol.
Dealing with family at Christmas
Ah yes, spending Christmas with the in-laws - a classic! Many of us know the feeling of having spent too long with our (extended) family during the holiday season, and how overwhelming it can be to be bombarded with questions, opinions and unwarranted critiques from our nearest and dearest.
One of the best things to help you cope with this overwhelming atmosphere is simple: distractions. If you are hosting family and friends and things start to get a little too much, you can always distract your guests with some great board games or quizzes. Of course, there’s always that one competitive cousin that will take it too far, but you can sit safely in the knowledge that it is indeed just a game.
If you’re a guest at a gathering hosted by someone else, it can be more difficult. You could always try to bring a game with you and see if others are interested in playing, but try not to steal the host’s thunder too much. It can also be good to bring a friend to big family events if you feel like you need to break up the atmosphere a little bit, so long as your family won’t mind.
Walk your troubles (and food) away!
Exercise is king! Science shows that exercise benefits your brain's health and reduces the risk of developing many diseases such as heart disease, cancer and dementia. Not only does a workout have all these great health benefits, but it can also help boost your mood in the days around your Christmas celebrations.
While doing a vigorous workout with a hangover probably isn’t the best idea, having a gentle walk the day after a big party or after a large Christmas lunch is a nice way to offset the booze and overindulgence. Fresh air and a little stroll alongside a nice Swiss lake is a lovely way to incorporate exercise into your holiday schedule without overdoing it.
Missing family and friends from your home country
As some people clamber to escape their families this Christmas, it is also a very lonely time for some expats. To help, you can try to use technology to bridge the gap between Switzerland and your home country by setting up online quizzes, games or even group calls, so you can say hi to your loved ones. One of the few positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic is that there are now lots of online platforms where you can see your friends and family and even services that let you watch films, videos and TV together as if you were in the same room!
Other ways you can beat the Christmas blues are by making plans with your friends. Try to gather some people you know in Switzerland for your very own “friendmas”, which allows you to keep other expats company too. You could even ask to go along to your friends’ family plans at Christmas if they are open to the idea.
Merry Christmas from IamExpat in Switzerland
Now that you know how to keep yourself happy and healthy in Switzerland this Christmas, there’s still some time left to make some last-minute plans if you don’t already have any! So quick, grab your phone, your Raclette grill and a small bottle of wine, and call your friends or family together for Christmas 2022. We sure hope you’ll have a merry one!