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A Dietitian’s Guide to a Happy Christmas and Holidays

With Christmas just a stone's throw away and with so much to look forward to, such as spending time with close friends and family, it can also bring about stress and anxiety around maintaining healthy habits.

As a dietitian, while I am a big believer of “everything in moderation”, when it comes to Christmas day, what is only one day can often be extended into a whole week or sometimes, even a whole month! It is not about what we eat at one meal or in one day, it’s the habits we establish over longer periods that set the tone for our health.

I hear many of the same challenges come up for my clients, so today I thought I’d share some of my favourite ways to maintain healthy habits (without deprivation) over the holiday period.

Don’t Drink Your Calories, Eat Them!

Alcohol tends to go hand in hand for the festive season. Although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass or two of your favourite drink on Christmas, we often find that sometimes our glass is being topped up multiple times and we can lose track of how much we’ve had.

A good habit is alternating your alcoholic drinks with a non-alcoholic option like water or a sugar free drink. This will keep you hydrated, reduce your calories, and leave you feeling a lot better the next day, compared to a hangover! Try soda water with fresh lime, no sugar soft drink or even a Kombucha (my favourite is from Remedy’s). Even try mixing some fresh fruit with the kombucha for a simple and refreshing mocktail!

Change the Snacks

There is almost always something to snack on before the main meal, and often, this selection is not always healthy (cheese boards, chips, dips), which may lead us down an easy path of mindless eating.

If you struggle to avoid these or don’t know when to stop, try bringing a healthier platter that you can eat freely. Think of some veggie sticks, healthy dips like hummus or seasonal fruit. Upgrading your grazing board with delicious snacks to provide more colour and variety is also a great way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake!

Stay Satisfied, Not Starved.

This is a big one and a common mistake a lot of us make. It’s compensation for an upcoming event by limiting what we eat in the day – a big no-no! This might leave you past the point of hunger and send you into a state of being ravenous once the event starts, meaning that this will lead to loading up on more snacks and larger portions; to the point of feeling stuffed, not full.

Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach, keep yourself satisfied during the day with regular meals and snacks, like every other day. Also remember to drink your water – dehydration can also increase hunger sensations!

Be Mindful

Taking a moment to stop and think before eating to check in with your hunger can go a long way. Also checking in with your emotions can also help us make a more conscious choice when choosing what we want to put on our plate. Typically, a brief pause before grabbing something can often reveal the motivation behind wanting it (e.g., boredom or stress).

Ask yourself a simple question each time you eat: “am I hungry?” or “is there something else that will meet what I truly need?”. This is often enough to help you control the types and volumes of food you eat.

Be Kind to Yourself and Take Time Out For YOU!

Self-care is super important. It’s a phrase we hear all the time, but don’t put it into practice. With the whirlwind that 2021 has been, additional pressures and stressors can be compounded during the holiday period, so it’s important to look after yourself. Take a bath, go for a run, or lift some weights, go to the beach, meditate, or even read a book. It’s important to slow down and do something for you.

That’s it folks. Thanks for being a part of our 2021 and we can’t wait to see you all in 2022. Have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year from the Team at EHA.

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