Christmas and a healthy diet needn’t be mutually exclusive – here’s how to have fun this festive season without piling on the pounds

Words Joy Montgomery

Healthy Holidays


When food is in seemingly unlimited supply and eating is the order of the day, it can be all too easy to pile your plate high. Being mindful of portion control is an easy way to reduce your calorie intake without missing out on the festive food you love. If you’re really struggling with self-restraint then try the age-old trick of eating from a smaller plate (sounds ridiculous but it works).


Christmas means family gatherings and family gatherings mean alcohol and – you’ve guessed it – alcohol means calories on tap (literally) and a resulting lack of restraint when it comes to the buffet… No one expects you to go T-total for the big day, but sandwiching each alcoholic beverage with a soft one or switching wine and beer for a shandy or spritzer will keep your holidays healthier. Your head will thank us for it later.


We know for most people Christmas is all about the food, however adjusting your mindset can make for a happier, healthier holiday. Rather than seeing the festive season as an excuse to gorge yourself, shift the focus to non-food related fun: the chance to play stupid games with your family, time to read all those books you’ve been hoarding or being able to run around outside with your kids.


Mindless grazing is the bane of our Christmas party-based existence. Little bowls of crisps, nuts and trays of canapés sit temptingly on every surface and are too easy to pick at throughout the night. To avoid the inevitable pre-dinner devouring (we’re hungry all right?) try tucking into a healthy filling snack, such as peanut butter on oat cake, to sate your appetite.


It might be tempting to think that by having a tiny amount of food earlier in the day we can justify a bigger meal later on. In fact, starving ourselves simply makes us hungrier and weaker and will result in us consuming even more calories – and most-likely calories from high fat and sugar-packed foods.


We know it’s cold out there, but it’s important to try and keep moving during the festive period. Whether it’s a quick trip to the gym or simply an invigorating post-lunch family walk, exercise will not only burn calories but it will also aid digestion and counteract any holiday-induced stress (Monopoly we’re looking at you).


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