Nutrition Hacks for a Healthy Christmas

Renée Naturally Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist & Western Medical Herbalist

The Christmas season is here, which means it’s time for all things green, red, merry, bright…sugary…rich…alcoholic…calorific…and indulgent! And with the hustle & bustle of holiday preparations, Christmas functions, shopping & end-of-year productions, some nights all you probably want to do is crash on the couch and rip into the Christmas chocolates you had wrapped up for your son’s teacher. Oops! So how do we stay on track with healthy eating over Christmas? Below, I share my thoughts on what actually constitutes a “healthy” Christmas, and a few nutrition hacks to make it a healthy, happy and guilt-free festive season.

Firstly, unlike Santa with his “Naughty” and “Nice” list, I’m not one to label things (in this instance, food) definitively “Good” or “Bad”. I don’t believe that Christmas is the one time of year we should be “allowed to break diet rules”, as I don’t actually believe in hard and fast diet rules in the first place. The Christmas period is undoubtedly a time when we are tempted to indulge more than we perhaps would at other times of the year, but a little indulgence doesn’t do a lot of harm. As long as we are mindful and making healthy choices along the way, we can have a deliciously healthy and fun Christmas enjoying the fine things in life with friends and family.

Resist Peer-Pressure
Yes, we can be peer pressured even as adults. Granted, it’s not quite the same as in our teenage years, but we’ve all got that friend who twists our arm to have yet another cocktail over lunch or just one more slice of pavlova. Stay strong! If you feel like you have genuinely had enough of something or just don’t feel like anymore, you’re not obliged to indulge just because it is Christmas. Listen to your body and just because something is there and ready for you, you don’t have to say yes. It’s empowering to know you that while you aren’t denying yourself delightful treats, you’re also not going to town with wild abundance. You have both control and flexibility.

Indulge Wisely
Eat what you want! As in, choose what you actually want (not to be confused with eating everything on offer!) Don’t feel obliged to say “yes” to foods that you don’t really enjoy. Not a fan of Aunt Sally’s Mince Tarts? You can politely decline and still be in her good books. The temptation can be to politely oblige in trying everything on offer, but you’re best of saving yourself for what you really want. If you dream about your Mum’s triple cream trifle all year long, savor every bite and don’t look back.

Stack Your Plate with Veges
If you find the selection on offer at parties overwhelming and you end up walking away from a buffet table with a plate of food heavier than the weights you lifted at the gym, try this simple hack. Always load about half your plate with the light, fresh vegetable options first. You’ll be less tempted to load your plate high, as who wants a flat salad? If your plate is pre-loaded with fresh options, you’ll still have room for a little of the other food on offer, just a little less of it.

Support Your Liver
If you drink alcohol, it’s almost a given that consumption levels are going to rise over the festive season If you’re drinking over the festive season, you may like to consider extra liver support by way of diet or supplementation. Foods and drinks that support the liver include; onions, cabbage, kale, dandelion tea, artichoke leaf, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and beetroot juice. Supplements could include milk thistle extracts, B vitamins, chlorella, or L-Glutathione.

Step Away
When you’re standing right next to the nibbles table, you’re naturally going to be more inclined to reach for the snacks, even if you’re not actually hungry. By all means, take a canape or two and enjoy every mouthful, but then step away from the table. If you’re right there, you’re likely going to be more tempted to reach for the snacks. Try and stand more than an arm’s length away from the nibbles.

It’s moments like these you need….minties! Well, to be fair, any mint will do. When you feel you’re full and you’ve had enough and don’t want to be tempted to eat more, you could try popping a mint into your mouth. The feeling is akin to freshly brushed teeth can curb additional gobbling.

Christmas is a time for joy, peace and hope. EnJOY your food, and make peace with the fact that you’re nutritional intake may not be as considered as at other times of year. It’s the most wonderful time of year & I hope you it’s merry and bright for you…with a dash of greens, of course!

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