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Healthy Swaps This Christmas!

Christmas is a time for celebration and indulgence, and that is OK!… However, it is essential to remember to continue to nourish yourself. Eating fruits, vegetables, and balanced meals will help your digestion, energy, and mood over the holiday. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep you happy and healthy over Christmas!


Let’s begin with Christmas Day itself. Rather than starting your day with a full Irish breakfast, let’s aim to include some fibre. Why not cook mushrooms and tomatoes with eggs or beans? Or you could try porridge topped with cinnamon and fruit or some pancakes with fruit and nut butter. Starting the day with a fibre-rich breakfast will help you feel full and satisfied until your next meal and reduce the risk of nibbles!


A traditional Christmas dinner is relatively healthy. A good serving of vegetables with your meal will add vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables. Include nuts in your stuffing; pick a lower-sugar cranberry sauce instead of cranberry jelly, and roast your potatoes using vegetable oil such as olive or rapeseed oil instead of goose fat. I’m all for relaxing and enjoying your meal on Christmas day but you will barely notice these changes once everything is served. Regarding what to have for dessert, let’s stick with tradition and go for Christmas pudding. It’s a high-fibre dessert after all!


Often, there is a Christmas tradition of loading up your plate with as much food as possible, leading to many of us feeling uncomfortably full. We have this idea of finishing everything on our plates, often resulting in us ignoring our satiety signals. Being in tune with your hunger and fullness is essential to preventing overeating and eliminating the idea of finishing all the food on your plate. Take your time, enjoy and savour your meal and remember there are always leftovers waiting for sandwiches and dinners in the following days.


Keep fizzy drinks and alcohol away from the table, even on a side table or countertop, so there is less desire to refill your glass. This allows us to be present in the meal and enjoy the food and is also a clever way to reduce both your alcohol and sugar intake. Keeping a jug of water on the table may encourage guests to stay hydrated.


A steady sleep schedule throughout the holidays may be challenging. Still, it may be the key to keeping your eating patterns on track! Lack of sleep may lead to increased consumption of sugar, salt, and fat, as refined convenience foods are often a go-to when we are tired. A whole night’s sleep will allow healthy choices and provide energy for the festive season. If you need to take a nap, do. Fresh air always helps, too.


Christmas is a time of year when there is more socialising and eating out with friends and family. Yes, it is OK to enjoy yourself on these occasions, but for those who want to be more health-conscious while eating a meal out, do not be afraid to ask restaurant servers to replace chips with potatoes and extra vegetables. You can also ask them to put dressings, sauces, or oils on the side of the dish. But the important thing is that you do what you want and what feels right. If you don’t want a dessert, say no; no one will be offended, but if you want a little extra, that’s OK, too.


Meeting up for a winter walk together is an excellent alternative to going out for a meal. It not only saves money, but it also allows you to stay active over the Christmas period. Remember, these are only suggestions; the most important part of Christmas is to enjoy the festive cheer while staying happy and healthy!

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