Christmas dinner on a table

Staying well over the festive season

Often the lead up to the festive season is busy and we can be feeling tired and run down by the time Christmas arrives. If you are following a particular eating plan to manage any health condition, then it can also be more challenging to stick to this over the festive season, especially if you are out more or away from home.

So this blog gives you my top tips for staying well over the Christmas period.

  1. Follow the 80/20 rule

It’s Christmas so of course there are more treats around and we are out of our usual routine and eating patterns. Don’t beat yourself up about having some treats or moving away from your usual eating patterns– I certainly will be! As a general guide, follow the 80/20 rule – as long as you are eating healthily 80% of the time, then having some treats 20% of the time is fine. Obviously if you have a food allergy or intolerance that is different, but having different foods for a few days is not the end of the world.

2. Try to limit Christmas treats to a few days over Christmas and New Year

Following on from the 80/20 rule, try not to end up with two weeks out of your usual eating patterns as it can then be hard to get back on track again. You might also notice that a sudden large sugar intake for two weeks can lead to gut problems, low energy or hormone problems in January. So, the trick is to try not to stock up on too much Christmas food that you end up eating it for weeks. Buy a small box of chocolates or biscuits that will just last a few days. Or if people give you boxes of chocolates or biscuits then give them to neighbours, work colleagues or a local charity.

3. Take some food that you can eat if visiting friends or relatives

If you are visiting friends or family, you have less control over what you are eating and this can be stressful for people who avoid particular foods like gluten or dairy. Let people know in advance, people are usually very happy to adapt things for you, especially if you give them some hints about how to do it. Or offer to bring a few dishes yourself and then you know there are things that you can eat. Similarly bring some snacks that you know you can tolerate and others may enjoy trying some new foods too.

4. Stock up on vegetables

A traditional Christmas dinner is actually fairly healthy, especially if you stock up on extra vegetables and have a bit less Yorkshire pudding or stuffing. Try to go for some of the vegetable options at buffets too such as vegetable sticks and dips or salads.

5. Go for protein based snacks

It’s often all the sweet treats that add up over Christmas, so opt for more protein based snacks such as nuts and seeds. You can always roast them with some tamari to give them some flavour. Or have them with some dark chocolate to give yourself a magnesium boost. Having healthy fats as a snack is also a good alternative, such as olives or some guacamole.

6. Break up alcohol with water or soft drinks

If you’re having a Christmas tipple, then break it up with some water or soft drinks. This will help counteract the dehydrating effect that alcohol can have. Alcohol can also spike your blood sugar levels, so eat some protein or healthy fat whilst you are drinking to help limit the effect on your blood sugar levels.

7. Go for a walk

Don’t forget to do some movement over the festive period and go out for a walk. This can help burn off some blood sugar and boost your mood and energy levels.

Enjoy the festive period!

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