Christmas is the season to be jolly, spend quality time with your loved ones, and of course, share lots of delicious food.

It can be extremely challenging during this time of year to ensure you eat well due to all the festivities, from office parties, family or friend gatherings, and new year celebrations- it becomes very food and drink centred so overindulging is very easy.

On average, we can consume up to 6000kcals on Christmas day, compared to the UK recommendation of 2000kcals a day for a woman and 2500kcals a day for a man.

However, do not worry! You can still eat, drink and be merry without overindulging.

Here are some tips to help you maintain a balanced diet during the Christmas period:

Start with a healthy breakfast.

Breakfast has often been associated with “the most important meal of the day.” However, for this to be true, it needs to be nutritionally dense to fuel our bodies for the day ahead.

My personal favourite must be a delicious bowl of porridge, topped with fruit (fresh or frozen) with a sprinkle of cinnamon to add some festive cheer. Porridge is a great option as it can help stabilise your blood sugar and energy levels, helping to sustain you for longer so you are less likely to reach for those festive nibbles or treats.

Look to reduce the amount of festive treats and nibbles you eat.

This is a difficult one, especially when treats seem to be everywhere!

Ensure you enjoy a treat or two but try your best to keep to your regular eating habits and patterns to keep you well-sustained. Unfortunately, too much unnecessary snacking can lead to you creating unhealthy habits going forward and causing you to consume extra calories from foods high in sugar, salt, and fat.

The main event…

The delicious traditional Christmas dinner.

A good old’ Christmas roast is considered a well-balanced meal, including lean turkey (if you have avoided too much butter basting) with plenty of vegetables to fill up the plate.

However, here are some small changes you could try to help make the meal healthier:

  • Remove the skin of the turkey to help reduce the amount of saturated fats and calories in the meal.
  • Swap your sausage meat stuffing with one that includes more fruit and nuts.
  • To add additional fibre to your meal, leave the peel and skin on the potatoes and vegetables you are roasting.
  • Look to use a lower salt stock alternative to make your gravy- your meal will be just as tasty!
  • Festive desserts are incredibly delicious but very rich- look to reduce your portion size and add fruit instead to help reduce the amount of sugar in your meal and it gives you the bonus of contributing towards your 5ADAY.

Be alcohol aware

During the festive season, we tend to consume a lot more alcohol than average, therefore be aware of how much you consume as it can also help stimulate your appetite. It is important to ensure you stay hydrated, try to alternate your alcoholic beverage with water or a non-alcoholic one. Alternatively, choose a sugar-free mixer or a smaller glass of wine or beer. Or there are great non-alcoholic cocktails to be enjoyed like this lovely recipe for a Christmas Mocktail 

Feel like you have been overindulging?

If you feel like you have been overindulging, do not worry or stress- food is a lot more than just calories, it is there to be enjoyed, to share and bring us together. Focus on getting back on track and adopting your normal eating habits. Do not allow a day or two of enjoying yourself and indulging to get you in a rut.

It’s important to remember, when it comes to food, your overall health is impacted by your dietary patterns over time, try to focus on the inclusion of more nutritious food where you can during Christmas rather than excluding any.

Further reading and resources.

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