There is something magical about Christmas: families make the extra effort to get together, houses are decorated, villages turn on their lights and children (big and small) are suddenly very, very good!

Then there’s the other side: the festive parties, the perpetual drinks dos, the pre-Christmas get-togethers. In fact there are so many that your calendar is rammed for days. The first few are fun and exciting, then, as you make your way through the season, you start to realise that all the hard work you’ve been doing with your healthy eating throughout the year seems to be being abandoned as you let your standards go, in the wake of sugar induced mince pie madness.

IIf you’ve worked hard on your health, now’s not the time to give it all up. It’s also not a reason enough to be missing out on festive yumminess. 

So, here are a few tips to navigate your way through the Christmas madness.

1. Never starve yourself before a party as you’ll eat a lot more food that you intended if you go on an empty stomach.

2. Always have a protein rich light snack before you head out for a party.

3. Avoid standing near the food, you’ll find yourself grazing away and before you know it, you’ve eaten double the amount you think you have!

4. Watch you portions sizes – smaller portions will let you sample different foods.

5. When it comes to Alcohol opt for Champagne, dry wine or spirits. Stay away from Baileys, beer and sweet drinks.

6. Drink water! Space your alcoholic drinks out with a glass of water in between. P.S. you’ll thank me for that one in the morning!

Focus on the unsalted nuts and seeds, salad and vegetables, hummus and tzatziki, olives and smoked salmon or smoked mackerel, lean meats and fresh fruit.

Avoid the crisps and fried snacks; sausage rolls and pasties, store bought coleslaw, potatoes and pasta salads; quiches and spring rolls; try and keep the cocktails, beer and cider to a minimum.  

Truth is that with the best will in the world Christmas is a challenging time to navigate so if you do over indulge, don’t beat yourself up. That said, don’t let your festive slip up turn into an excuse to continue down that slippery path.If you do find yourself in need of some help, then why not check out my programmes for a helping hand in getting you refocused, re-centred and back on track. It will be fun, I promise.

You’ve worked the whole year on your health, you’re proud and quite rightly so, you’ve done an incredible job. You’re not the same person that you were this time last year and you don’t want to ruin all the hard work. At the same time, you have a serious case of festive food FOMO! 

Never fear, I’m here to guide you through the festive dilemma, so that you can have your cake and eat it. All you need is to pay attention, make some good choices and, above all, understand why these simple choices are so important. 

I don’t normally talk about calories, however, for the purpose of easy understanding they are featured below!

Turkey: This should be your first port of call, especially if you have a stressed out family. Turkey contains tryptophan and amino acid which is converted by the body into serotonin, a chemical known for its mood boosting properties, handy for calming everyone down! Aside from all this, turkey is a source of lean protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins and selenium.

100g of roasted turkey will give you 104 calories and 2g of fat. If you take the skin off you’ll save yourself 40 calories and half the fat! 

Brussels sprouts: These little bad boys are surprisingly good for you, full of folate, vitamin C and fibre, they have been shown to reduce DNA damage. They are stacked full of cancer fighting sulforaphane, giving them another valid reason to be on your plate. 

Avoid drowning them in creamy sauces! One of the best ways to enjoy them is lightly steamed. As steaming reduces the natural flavour, you can shower them in herbs and spices if you feel the need to heighten the flavour even more. 150g of Brussel sprouts equates to 65 calories so if your super hungry you know what to tuck into to fill you up.

Sweet Potatoes: A brilliant source of beta-carotene which just in case you didn’t know is an essential nutrient for healthy skin and immune system. Beta-carotene is also anti-inflammatory. You might want to think about switching the white potatoes out this year!  

Boil or bake your sweet potatoes. If you want to roast them, do so with coconut oil which is stable at high temperatures and preferentially used by the body as a fuel source. 

Cranberry Sauce:  Store bought cranberry sauce is laden with sugar so challenge yourself in making your own by simmering fresh cranberries with orange juice and red wine. 

Sausages, meat stuffing and bacon are processed products, high in salt and a lot of times full of additives. One rasher of bacon can contain up to 6g of fat and 90 calories! Add stuffing and gravy to your day, and you’re sitting at 320 calories.

Swap the sausage meat for nut and fruit based stuffing, which is full of healthier fats, fibre and antioxidants.

Mince Pie: Ooo I love these guys! But at 203 calories a shot for an average mince pie I always make my own and I advise you to do the same, here’s the recipe (insert recipe link) 

Christmas pudding: 320 calories and 49g sugar with a dollop of brandy butter, I think we’ve found where the serious calories are hiding! Watch you portion size and top your serving with coconut yogurt instead of cream.

Choosing healthier options. 

Satsumas: Santa always used to leave a satsuma in the tip of my stocking. I think it was a gentle warning from the big guy. Satsumas, low in calories, rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and soluble fibre. 2 of these little orange balls contains 36 calories you can pretty much eat a box of them for one slice of Christmas pudding! 

Dark Chocolate: 70% cocoa and up, enough chocolate to give you the buzz you are looking for, bitter enough to stop you coming back for more@ 

Mixed nuts: Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and essential fats, plus a host of vitamins and minerals, they make a good snack. 

Then there was mulled wine… 

Full of heart protecting antioxidants especially resveratrol, but be wary of the amount you drink, 1 average sized glass packs a 122-calorie punch and is laden in sugar. You might want to stop at one glass! 

At the end of the day Christmas Day itself comes but once a year. My general advice is to relax and enjoy the day, have a bit of everything but not go overboard. Try to avoid the beach whale feeling by making smart choices and watching your portion sizes.