My top 10 tips for the Festive Season

Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

December 20, 2019

10 tips things to enjoy your favourite Christmas treats and drinks during the Festive Season – and stay full of energy and without the “bloat”

Christmas is not the time to deprive yourself. I’m all for eating foods you associate with the Festive Season, with Family get-togethers and with your favourite childhood memories – even if they are not considered “healthy”.

I feel that there is something healthy in sharing your dinner table with family. Eating something that was made with love. Enjoying it in great company with friends and family that you haven’t seen in a while.

However, our bodies do not know it is Christmas. The sugar and the alcohol still create the same reactions in our bodies as during the rest of the year.

The dilemma around Christmas is that we don’t want to go on diets and don’t want to restrict ourselves, but we might still feel “guilty” for eating too many chocolates, or we feel bloated, tired, have no energy at the same time.

We know that when we eat sugary treats, we can feel hungry soon after and often crave more. We know that drinking alcohol can give us munchies and that all willpower goes down the drain. We know that over-eating and drinking drain energy and can give us digestive issues.

And yet – we still do it! Why? Because the emotional part of eating food plays such a huge role in our sub-conscious mind! You will not be able to try and control your sub-conscious mind with willpower alone. You need to “trick” it – and that’s what the following 10 tips will do.

If you try out these 10 tips during the Festive Season, you can still enjoy your mince pies and mulled wine AND keep your energy up and avoid the “bloat”.
  1. Be mindful

Can you just finish a Selection Box and don’t even notice it?

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your Christmas treats, but how often do you actually not even notice you’ve eaten something or haven’t actually fully and mindfully eaten it.

By being mindful, not only won’t you not over-eat, you will actually enjoy everything much more!

Next time, you eat chocolate, use all senses: Look at it, think where it might come from, take in the aromas, let it gently melt on your tongue.

  1. Drink plenty of water

We often fell hunger or cravings when we are in fact dehydrated. Natural foods such as vegetables and fruit come with lots of water, whereas sweets, baked goods etc don’t.

So, when you feel cravings or hunger, make yourself hot water (with lemon and/or honey), herbal tea or just drink plain fresh water. Then wait for about 10-20 minutes and see.

Also, I always recommend, when you are out drinking, to always have a glass of water after each drink, in order to pace yourself and avoid dehydration and the dreaded hangover in the morning.

A cup of hot water first thing in the morning with lemon is a great habit to get into throughout the whole year but during the winter, it can also help boost your vitamin C intake.

However, avoid having water while eating, as it can impair digestion.

  1. Eat your vegetables

Of course, I always say that, but it is super important to counterbalance the extra sugar that you are eating with something healthy. Apart from the nutrients, you are getting, you are also making sure to get your fibre and to feel fuller for longer – and are less likely to over-eat the sweets.

It’s all about balance!

  1. Move

It’s not about using up calories, but moving as much as possible does help you burn off some of the sugar quicker and better.

It also helps you feel much better, and you won’t feel as sluggish and just reach for the sweets.

Movement can be anything, try and get moving wherever and whenever you can, outside is best, but taking the stairs a couple of times, moving around the kitchen, dancing, anything helps!

Keep active during the Festive Season and don’t be a couch potato!

  1. Rest and sleep

Fully take advantage of the days off work. And why not use these days to completely switch off your laptop and your phone. Do a digital detox, do not go near Facebook or Instagram as tempting as it might be to post your Christmas Dinner.

Take a good book or colour a colouring book, do a jigsaw, do something you love doing and never find the time for during your hectic busy work schedule.


Go to bed early and snuggle up and have a good ly-in.

6. Intermittent fasting

Give your body a break every now and again by not eating. Setting yourself a rule of not eating for a minimum of 12 hours will give your body time to rest and digest and repair. It also avoids unnecessary and mindless snacking after dinner.

When you finish your dinner at 7pm, just don’t have your breakfast before 7am.

7. Eating out

Christmas time is a time to go out and meet friends over a meal and some drinks. I suggest planning where you are going, have a look at the menu and choose what you’re having beforehand. Don’t go overly hungry as you will be more likely to over-eat and go for the higher and calorie-denser foods. Be the first to say “no, thank you!” to the dessert menu.

8. Help your body digest

Having a little bit (1 tsp) of Apple Cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water can work wonders to help digestion. Before you start eating, take a deep breath and a long out-breath to calm yourself down and bring your body into “Rest & Digest” mode. Chew your food properly or until it is liquid. Eat mindfully. Do not eat while at the computer or on the go.

9. Try healthier alternatives to your favourites

Substitute sugar with xylitol or stevia, add more spices and cinnamon, make your own snacks, have some nuts and seeds rather than sugary sweets.

Feel free to download my complimentary Christmas recipe eBook here.

10. Make a clear plan

Rather than just leaving everything up to chance, create a clear goal. That goal can be that you accept to gain 2 pounds, or it can be that you aim to maintain your weight, or that you might continue with a weight loss programme that you might have started beforehand. Also, plan what you are going to do in January. Do you plan an alcohol-free Jan? Try out a Veganuary? Or start a new exercise routine. If you are already planning it now, and committing to it, you are more likely to do it.

Enjoy this festive season and stay safe, happy and healthy!

Happy Christmas!

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