Nutrition guide

Tips from a dietitian to have fun, not to overdo it

Zone without deprivation.

Christmas is an opportunity to enjoy quality moments with loved ones, to relax with time off and, of course, to savor delicious festive dishes. Now is not the time to stress about everything you put in your mouth. While this isn’t an excuse to eat Christmas pudding for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I think what’s important is that you practice eating in full consciousness.

I’m not here to tell you the same old tips that go around every year (“eat before you get to the party so you’re not hungry”, “use a smaller plate”, “take your dressing aside”). Instead, I’d like to share with you my top seven practical tips that will help you enjoy the holiday season – and maintain your health at the same time – without going without.

But before we dive into that, let’s get one thing clear: Christmas is only one day of the year (if you’re lucky, maybe two or three). Indulging yourself for a few days at this time of year won’t outweigh twelve months of consistent healthy eating, but it will add a lot of fun to your life. So, live a little!

1. Give yourself the freedom.

It’s time to ditch the strict dietary rules. You no longer have to classify foods as “good” or “bad”, or think that you are not allowed to eat certain foods. You can eat whatever you want if you really want to.

2. Tune in to your hunger and fullness signals.

Before you eat, take a moment to consider whether you are really hungry. Do you feel your stomach growling? Does your stomach seem empty? If not, are you just thirsty? Maybe you are bored or emotional and don’t need to eat at all. Try to identify your triggers and only eat if you are really hungry.

3. Be present.

All too often we see people eating without thinking. Bite after bite without a second thought, scrolling through social media, watching TV or responding to emails. Instead, you should take a step back and be present in the moment. Pay attention to the smell, taste and texture of your food and truly savor every bite (rather than making fun of everything in five seconds flat). Putting your knife and fork down between bites can also help.

4. Let go of all or nothing.

Does “new year, new me” sound familiar to you? Silly season isn’t an excuse for a daily calorie bomb just because the new year is just around the corner (and you promise yourself this * will * be the year to get fit and lose weight). This all-or-nothing mentality just doesn’t work – instead, it’s important to work on moderation.

5. Don’t skip meals.

Eating a healthy breakfast is essential any day of the year, so don’t skip it in the hopes of saving calories for later in the day. If you start your day with a nutritious breakfast, you won’t make it to Christmas lunch absolutely starving (which will ultimately lead to you consuming more calories anyway).

6. Don’t go crazy at the buffet.

More often than not, Christmas buffets are plentiful with all types of festive dishes under the sun. So take a moment to browse the full range of what’s on offer and pick a few of your favorite picks – rather than grabbing a bit of everything and ending up with a mountain of food to blast your way through! If you are still hungry, you can always go back.

7. Maintain healthy habits.

Remember the importance of regular exercise and getting enough sleep to stay strong. Whether you stick to your regular Pilates or Pump class, or mix it up with a nature walk or a game of cricket in the backyard, keep moving forward. Prioritizing your 8 z hours per night will also help you feel better during this hectic time of year.

Read more stories like this: The Smart Christmas Calorie Plan. Plus, how to avoid gaining 2kg this Christmas, according to Sam Wood.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Licensed Practicing Dietitian. You can connect with her at, or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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