Have yourself a happy, healthy Christmas

There are plenty of traditions associated with Christmas and a good few of them revolve around food. Is yours a turkey or ham sort of household? Then what’s for dessert? Mince pies, Christmas pudding with brandy butter, Tunis cake? And that’s before you’ve even thought about all the little chocolates and nutty snacks that seem to flow so freely at this time of year.

The song is quite right, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we all deserve to kick back, relax and treat ourselves a little. But if you’ve spent the past 12 months getting in shape, the last thing you want is for all that effort to go to waste in one big Christmas backslide.

Bitesize Christmas chunks

That sort of fear is understandable when you read the terrifying statistics on just now much weight some people put on over Christmas. However, according to nutritionist to the stars Gabriela Peacock, a little over-indulgence shouldn’t do any harm to your overall health, fitness or weight management.

Gabriela told Grazia magazine: “Christmas only lasts a few days so doesn’t need to jeopardise your good intentions.” Therein lies an important point. Those who find themselves a stone heavier by twelfth night are the ones who started on the pretzels, chocolates and cheesy footballs in early December and are finally coming off a month-long binge.

Gabriela recommends breaking things up and ensuring you return to normality between Christmas and New Year: Set yourself up with a healthy, hearty breakfast; cut back on the gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol; make sure you are properly hydrated and try to get a little exercise, too.

Healthy substitutions

The big tubs of confectionary that sell in such high numbers over Christmas are full of sugar. Frankly, these are the last things you want to be picking at on Christmas evening when you are not really hungry in the first place. A better alternative is to opt for good quality dark chocolate that has a cocoa content of at least 70 percent. The fact that it tastes a little more bitter means you’ll be less likely to disappear it at such an alarming rate, too.

More of a cake person? Our personal recommendation would be to indulge yourself in healthy applejacks or perhaps these Bakewell flapjacks. They have all the festive cheer of the traditional Tunis cake but are far better for you.

Nuts are another firm favourite at Christmas. The biggest problem with the ones you buy in those industrial-sized tins from the supermarket is that they are usually coated in sugar or salt – and sometimes both. Unsalted nuts are an indulgence that you can enjoy guilt free over a couple of days. After all, they are packed with good things like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and Vitamin E.

Enjoy Christmas and we’ll see you on the other side

Christmas comes but once a year. It’s a time when you can take a well-earned breather and enjoy ourselves, so don’t spend it the festive season worrying about the effects of overindulgence. Follow the above advice and you will come through the season refreshed and unscathed – we’ll see you in 2020!