10 Tips for Staying Healthy at Christmas


We’ve hit December, and you’re about to hear ‘go on, it’s Christmas’ every single time you turn down another Cadbury’s Hero.

Now, I’m not here to try and ruin your Christmas spirit by saying you can’t have this and you can’t have that – definitely not – however, I think it’s pretty important that we look after ourselves over the holiday period just as well as we do all year round. It’s just a bit more difficult at this time of year because temptation is everywhere, and the social pressure temperature is turned up full blast.

So here are my 10 top tips for staying healthy this Christmas.

1. Start your day well

It seems pretty obvious, but starting your day as you mean to go on really is probably the best tip I can give you. Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning, and make a healthy, balanced breakfast. Include a good portion of protein, a healthy portion of carbs & some healthy fats and set yourself up for the day just as you normally would.

2. Stay well hydrated

And this doesn’t just mean on days where you’ll be drinking alcohol! Being well hydrated is super important and one of the easiest and most simple ways that you can stay healthy over Christmas. Even being slightly dehydrated could make you feel sluggish, tired and hungrier than normal. Have a large glass of water first thing in the morning, and sip regularly throughout the day. Aim to drink 2 litres of water per day.

3. Be prepared

Just as you would any other week, make sure you are planning your meals in advance, writing a shopping list and getting all the food in that you need for that week. That way, you can resist the temptation to grab a take away on your way home from work, or end up snacking on sugary foods whilst waiting for your dinner!

4. Don’t neglect your exercise routine

Christmas is not an excuse to ditch your training routine, in fact, with the extra calories you’ll be consuming over the Christmas period, now is the time to make sure you stick to your routine. All gyms have Christmas & New Year timetables published by now, so you will be able to plan your gym visits of classes right away. If you go to fitness classes, book them in advance & get them into your diary.

5. Watch your alcohol intake

At this time of year it’s easy to slip into the habit of ‘one or two’ glasses of wine every night after work (‘because it’s Christmas’), however, I would have you consider the effect this is going to have to your weight AND your health over the festive period. Drinking alcohol every day over the Christmas period is really easy, and much more socially acceptable than any other time of the year – it’s an easy habit to slip into but not as easy to get back out of again! You might find yourself feeling more bloated, sluggish and tired if you insist on daily drinking.

On average, there are about 160 calories in a large glass of white wine. That’s an extra 2240 calories a week if you’re having a couple of glasses a night over Christmas, which equates to more than a whole extra days worth of calories. Not only that, but your body’s fat burning processes are limited (or even stopped) whilst it gets rid of the alcohol in your system. This obviously isn’t great if getting or staying lean over the holiday period is your goal.

Consider saving alcohol for one or two of the special days, you’ll actually appreciate and enjoy it a lot more.

6. Remove temptation

Does your house, office or staff room look like a Cadbury’s factory right now? are there big tubs of Roses, Quality Street or Heroes on every table?

One of the biggest reasons we snack so mindlessly over the Christmas period is the heightened temptation all around us. Put your hand up if you’ve ever gone for ‘just one’ and suddenly you’re 10 Heroes deep and feel a bit sick? When it’s in front of you, it’s going to get eaten – no matter what it is.

Remove the temptation. In the office or staff room, place boxes of chocolate in cupboards or out of sight. At home, reserve a kitchen cupboard for such goodies. Out of sight, out of mind. Trust me on this one. Or just get rid of them completely – donate unwanted sugary gifts to the food bank.

 7. Choose your indulgences wisely

I often use this strategy with clients over the Christmas period, and it will work the same for you. Pick two days/occasions that are most important to you, and let your hair down (within reason), and the rest of the time treat like any other day or week. Not only will this keep you feeling awesome, you will also appreciate your indulgences a lot more if you save them for occasions that you will really enjoy. You’ve earned it!

8. Use the 80/20 rule

Another strategy I like to use with clients is the 80/20 principle, and not just at this time of year. If 80% of your food intake comes from single ingredient, whole foods then the other 20% can be made up from whatever you like. This removes restriction so that you never feel deprived of your favourite foods. Depriving yourself of foods you enjoy (especially at Christmas) leads to binge behaviour.

9. Make sure you have ‘normal’ food in the house

This might sound weird, but over the next few weeks you’ll find your fridge and cupboards start to fill up with ‘Christmas’ food and drink, and that’s cool, but make sure you have ‘normal’ food in your house too. Going back to Tip #3 (Be prepared), it’s important that you have your normal everyday staples handy, because you’re going to get sick of eating rich food eventually. Make sure you have plenty of things like eggs, yoghurt, fruit and vegetables in stock so that you always have quick healthy options on hand.

10. Enjoy Christmas Day!

Seriously, it only happens once a year. Enjoy it. This is not a free ticket to consuming your body weight in shit though – stay mindful. Eat and drink what makes you feel good, enjoy spending time with family and friends and let your hair down. If you have put the work in all year, you should NOT be feeling guilty about indulging a little on Christmas Day.

If you think these tips are going to help you, please share with your friends too!

Merry Christmas xx

About the Author

"All in or all out" Rachael is a vibrant, no-bullshit-talking Scottish nutrition geek and coach helping women to lose weight without giving up their confidence OR their favourite foods.

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