Published on 1st November 2017


The Christmas festivities can take their toll; many of us will indulge – and spend – a little too much, and exercise – and sleep – a little too, err, little. Which is why, come January, we’re often several pounds heavier on the scales, many pounds lighter in the wallet, and totally exhausted. And then the guilt-monster rears its not-so-attractive head and we find ourselves signing up to a variety of gym classes and quick-fix weight loss/detox diets. But actually, an occasional indulgence shouldn’t make us feel bad about ourselves – ‘tis the season to be merry after all; we just need to employ some moderation, too. And small changes can in fact make a big difference. Here are some simple tips from the nutritional therapists at ION for making it through the festive season/frenzy…

Drink aware: 

  1. Stay hydrated – sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger and will turn to the mince pies and sausage rolls to fill the gap. Note: Herbals teas and water count, alcoholic festive tipples do not, no matter how delicious they are! If we hydrate ourselves before going on a night out, we’re also less likely to overdo the booze because we’re thirsty.
  2. Order a glass of water with or between each alcoholic drink to help curb overall alcohol intake and reduce the chances of waking up with a hangover the next morning.
  3. Make good alcohol choices. Alcoholic drinks can make a significant contribution to the calorie excesses at Christmas, and that includes the mixers that might be added too. has a useful calculator that lets you keep track of how many units and calories you have consumed.
  4. Beware of festive coffees made with whipped cream and syrups – they might taste nice but they also pack a large calorie (and sugar) punch too. Make them an occasional treat rather than a daily habit.

Food focus:

  1. Keep your plate balanced – it can be full, but opt for more of the non-starchy vegetables (sprouts anyone?) and less of the roast potatoes and parsnips.
  2. Avoid overstocking your cupboards with festive foods – it’s easy to get carried away with all of the delights on offer, but ask yourself: do you really need them? People tend to panic buy in bulk, but the shops are still open for most of the Christmas period!
  3. Practise mindful eating – in other words, slow down, senses your senses and savour your food and drink; don’t wolf it down without it even touching the sides. If you’re going to indulge in something, then make sure you really enjoy it.
  4. Prepare for Christmas parties: don’t go hungry; fill at least some of your plate with crudités and colourful foods and go easy on the ‘beige’ food; and stand away from the buffet table – if you’re next to it, you’re more likely to pick at the food without even realising!
  5. Boil your bones! Make proper turkey stock, freeze and use in soups, casseroles, etc.; it saves on waste, tastes good, and has health benefits too – a win-win!
  6. Get in the kitchen. Although it’s easier to buy shop-bought cakes, puddings, etc., they are often laden with sugar and other additives. If you have time and prepare well, by making your own you can control what goes in and the amount of sugar you add.
  7. Make a menu plan to save time and effort – and to cater for all the various food tastes. If eating roast potatoes, cook ahead and freeze, then simply reheat. Share your healthy menus so any contributors know what to bring to the table!

Rest up:

  1. Get your Zzzs – it may feel that there is very little time to sleep when there are so many things to do, people to see and parties to attend, but good quality sleep will be particularly important when the festivities commence. One of the ION team recommends the use of the Sleep Cycle alarm clock app for iOS uses, which she says helps improve her quality of sleep. Also remember that alcohol and heavy meals before bed can interfere with sleep too.
  2. It’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re rushing around trying to keep to a busy schedule, but it’s important to factor in some ‘me time’ too. Put some organic, natural bath products/toiletries on your Christmas list so that you can soak away the stresses and strains of the season. Remember you can say ‘no’ – whether it’s a party invite, a babysitting favour, or extra hours in the office, don’t overburden your already busy to do list.

Get moving: 

  1. The days may be colder but a long (or short) walk in the fresh air can be a great way to refresh and recharge. Spending hours on end in front of the TV with a box of chocolates in one hand and a glass of festive fizz in the other may sound appealing, but it won’t do much for our physical and mental health. Keep up the exercise regime if you have one, and get out and get moving if you don’t.

With thanks to the nutritional therapists at ION: Shirley Briars, Kate Delmar-Morgan, Vizma Ezite, Catherine Morgan, Karen Newby, Emma Rees, Ruth Taylor


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