Staying Healthy at Xmas

Healthy Xmas Food

I thought I’d tackle this blog about Xmas food from a slightly different angle since there are enough articles out there about ‘What not to eat-at Xmas’ and ‘How to avoid putting on the pounds at Xmas’.

Yes we have to understand how to get through the Xmas Season sensibly, how to be able to go out, party and have a good time whilst staying on track but also how to tackle comments and pressure from peers & family members.

This is usually how it goes at a Xmas event (or any event for that matter it’s just that they’re more frequent during the Xmas season!)…..

Friend: Great to see you again, here have a bellini!

You: Great to see you too, no thanks I’m trying to be good with alcohol over Xmas this year.

Friend: Oh yes me too but one won’t hurt, plus you can’t be a party pooper.

You: True, ok then, just one.

Waiter: Canapes?

You: They look great I’ll just have the one thanks

You: Oh F*** It they taste amazing I’ll just have a couple & that’s it for the night

Friend:  Let’s get another drink...

& so the night goes on...

Then the following night it’s a work dinner out, then a mate’s party, then a family pre-Xmas get together, then a pre-theatre dinner & drinks…

Research(1) has shown that on average, people gain around 1kg of weight over the holiday season but this can easily be more.

"The truth is that most people just lose will power at this time of year. It literally spirals out of control".

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They forget to eat decent meals with proper foods, instead forgoing these either so they can ‘save themselves’ for the work Xmas dinner or avoid eating carbs for a week prior to the Xmas party.

Seriously, why do people just lose their sense of self control at Xmas?

The problem is either one of 2 things:

  1. They don’t know the fundamentals of nutrition
  2. They don’t have the strength of character to say ‘No thanks’ & not care what others think of them

It’s generally more often than not the latter. The mind is like any other muscle, it needs to be exercised and used in order to stay strong. 

Like that old drugs campaign “just say no!” (in a polite manner of course!)

Honestly, the more you do it, the more you’ll get used to it, the more people will get used to you saying it.

I don’t drink alcohol because I’m of Chinese descent and I am missing the liver enzyme that digests it. That’s not an excuse. Sure some people think it’s an excuse but that’s because:

  1. they’re not educated in knowing the facts
  2. it makes them feel uncomfortable that I’m not drinking

Sure I can drink it but it makes me sick. All my life I’ve refused drinks. Friends who have known me for decades STILL try to get me to drink. Every time I have to say no thanks.

YES it gets tedious and boring.

YES my friends/ work colleagues think I’m a bit boring.

But YES I can still have a good time without it because I am used to doing it.

NO I don’t care what people think about that. If it makes them feel uncomfortable that I’m not drinking then it’s their problem not mine.

If you don’t want to drink then don’t. It’s as simple as that. If you can’t stick to just having one or two drinks then don’t start because alcohol like anything else can be a trigger food & obviously it’s worse because the more alcohol consumed, the less self-control you have.

Having a soft drink or soda water is not the end of the world.

Same goes for food at parties. Have the will power, strength of mind and character to just say no thanks. If you care that much about what others think of you then it’s your own self-esteem you need to work on. Yes there are things you can do to make it easier to refuse all the canapes and eat less at the buffet, such as having a decent meal beforehand with protein and fibre in it. But, more than that you have to realise that with goal achieving must come sacrifice.

I chat about this with lots of my clients. I get them to see how important their own sense of self-worth is. If they come to me and say ‘Why didn’t I lose any weight this week ? I ate well but I did go out drinking 3 nights’ then they have just answered their own question.

The next time that situation creeps up they have the choice:

Stay on track, lose the weight. refusing to either go out to the event or go and not drink alcohol.


Do exactly as they did before and; not make any progress that week.

The choice is always yours.

As a consenting adult no one is literally forcing feeding/drinking you. No one is putting that glass of wine to your mouth and making you swallow it.

The more you do it the better you get at it.

I had a client who LOVED drinking wine. Loved it. Drank every night.

She had a goal to lose weight for her wedding. She had a great diet and ate good nutritious foods & a decent amount without ever binging or getting huge cravings.

She just had to give up the drinking which for her, was a lot easier said than done because she was very social.

We reduced it slowly week by week starting off with just drinking Friday and the weekends. Then just the weekends, then just one night, then just on special social occasions. By the end she lost all weight she wanted and no longer found it hard to say no to alcohol. She even managed to just have 2x drinks on her hen night (which was full of Irish mates).

Did she feel that she missed out? Maybe a tiny bit but, more importantly, she felt and looked AMAZING on her wedding day. A day she will remember for the rest of her life.

So this Xmas think carefully. If you have goals that you are working towards, the choice is yours.

Either jeopardise them or don’t.

Either take 2 steps forward or one step back.

Either learn to enjoy yourself by chatting to your friends with a soft drink or do the same with a plate full of canapes and glass of wine which will make you feel guilty the next day.

After Xmas no one will care to remember that you didn’t drink at the party.

Pace yourself- it’s a long few weeks.



  1. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 67, 944-949 (September 2013) | doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.98
  2. J L Stevenson, S Krishnan, M A Stoner, Z Goktas and J A Cooper