Written by Helen Byrne on Tuesday, 1stDecember 2015


It’s the season to be eating….

As I said in my previous post, Christmas is a time traditionally given to overindulgence as Christmas drinks, office parties, end-of-year farewells and family get-togethers fill our December calendar. It’s a time to connect with family and friends and there’s food in abundance whether its finger foods, buffets or those deadly Christmas food gifts like the tins of roses, the mince pies, the Christmas cakes, and the selection boxes.

Sharing in the Christmas spirit, however, can also be a stressful time for many of us. There’s the extra pressures of trying to get everything done in time, crowds at the shops, battling the traffic, Christmas financial strains and huge expectations from families. The result – we eat and drink too much to calm us and help us cope with all the extra stresses.

Eat and drink but be wary

The silly season is a major contributor to weight gain, with many people putting on weight by the end of December.  Why? Many of us let go of all dietary restraint and there are more opportunities to overeat and over-drink as part of the party celebration mood.

Christmas is hardly a time to be trying to shed excess kilos. Be realistic – a more achievable goal is to keep your weight stable over the festive season and simply not put on any.

While no-one can eat healthily 100 per cent of the time, here’s my 5 tips to help you not end up looking like Santa by the end of the year!

  1. Limit the pig outs!

pig out

Keep those wildly-overindulgent days to a minimum – the day you finish up at work, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. One or two day’s real overeating (when your stomach feels as if it will burst) won’t be bad but a month of festive feeding will pile on the kilos. Excess weight is gained slowly, not just from one overindulgence. Just eat sparingly the next day.

The temptations are around us earlier every year. Now that Christmas starts in November with Santa appearing in the shopping centres and piles of puddings and chocolates everywhere,

  1. Be selective

Eat, drink and be wary at those Christmas feasts. Survey the starters, breads, side dishes, hams, turkeys, Pavlovas and Christmas puddings and decide what you absolutely MUST HAVE and what you can leave. Don’t use it as an excuse to eat as much as you can or get ‘your money’s worth’.

  1. Avoid too much alcohol

Alcohol is packed with calories and loosens your inhibitions so you eat things you normally wouldn’t like party pies or fried onion rings.

Dilute wine and spirits with ice and mineral water, ask for light beer instead of full-strength or intersperse a juice or sparkling mineral water between regular drinks.

Don’t forget the non-alcoholic options –non-alcohol wine and beer, lime and soda, and sparkling water.

And have something to eat before you drink to slow the absorption of alcohol into blood stream.

I have cooked up a delicious non-alcoholic mulled wine — perfect for pacing yourself or for any designated drivers out there.

healthy mulled wine post

Just add 800ml of blueberry juice, 1 tsp of Maple Syrup, 100g of mixed frozen berries, and 0.5 tsp of cinnamon to a blender, and process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pot, then add 1cm of peeled and sliced ginger-root, 1 star anise, 2 cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks and some fresh orange or lemon slices. Heat through gently without boiling, then strain and serve.  The blue berries are great for supporting your digestive health and packed with Vitamin C especially important over the festive period.  They also help improve working memory – very important when we are multi-tasking our way through Christmas!

  1. Keep moving

Keep up your exercise to counter the food. Visit the gym (usually half-empty at this time of year), take up swimming or go for a brisk walk after dinner. Walk the dog.  Set yourself a small action plan now on the first week in December to exercise minimum of 30 mins 4 days a week for the month of December.  As difficult as I may seem, you will feel so better and it will also help you cope with the Christmas stress!

  1. Don’t eat your way through two big meals a day

This is a sure way to pile on the weight. If you have to attend two functions, eat lightly or skip a course.

  1. Try to get enough sleep.

A lack of sleep not only affects more than just your energy levels and your mood, but also your food choices.  If you are short on sleep you will find yourself craving junk foods and sweets.  This has been proven at the University of California Berkeley.  They found that even after a single night of sleep deprivation, participants’ brains responded with greater desire for unhealthy foods than when they were rested. Their desire for junk food increased along with the severity of their sleep deprivation. The more sleep-deprived people were, the more they wanted junk food.  So try and get your minimum 7 hours and chances are you will make better food choices the following day.

Go ahead and set yourself a health goal, even just one perhaps, for the Christmas period.  

Remember to look after YOURSELF because you are worth it.

If you are interested in a personalised consultation I would be delighted to help you, just give me a call on 086-806787832 or email helen@help2healthnutrition.ie