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How to maintain your nutrition progress over Christmas time

articles Feb 07, 2024

You’ve worked so hard over the past few months to make many positive changes to your eating habits and you are feeling really proud of the progress you’ve achieved. But the end of year is here, and Christmas now seems to creep upon us earlier and earlier each year, meaning you are having your first date with the Gingerbread man in the first week of November!

So how do you find the balance between enjoying the festive season but not undoing all your hard work? 
Here’s our special tips to help you have the merriest of Christmas and still have a happy and fresh start to the new year.

1. Commit to eating foods you NEED

It’s really common to make little rules with yourself about what to eat and what not eat at social parties and celebrations. You can end up sounding like your bargaining with a 4 year old and that tends never ends well.
“If I have a light lunch, I can eat as much as I like at the Christmas function”
“I’ll skip dinner because then I have the box of mince pies”. 

Trying to ‘save’ calories can lead us into a trap of over eating or over indulging, even when we have the best intentions to exercise restraint. When you haven’t eaten regularly or fuelled your body properly throughout the day, you arrive feeling overly hungry, restricted or deprived so generally, we make choices that aren’t as rationale as if we were adequate fed. 
So instead of chasing your own tail and cheat yourself of your own rules, set NEW rules about what you CAN eat.

Make a mini pact with yourself that you:

  • will eat like you usually do, leading up to the social event - breakfast, lunch and snacks if that’s how you like to eat.
  • will decide at the event to eat a plate of food from the healthy plate model which includes wholesome foods like lean meats or fish/seafood, a little bit of high fibre carbohydrates like sweet potato, rice or potato salad plus a heap of roast vegetables or leafy green salads.
  • choose whether you will have some nibbles before the meal or wait until mains.
  • choose if and what you want for dessert; is it either a little bit of everything or a portion of one thing?

This way you won’t feel like you have missed out on any foods, you won’t go home feeling stuffed like a turkey and you won’t have the guilts that you ‘messed up’.


2. Be Alcohol Wise

It’s summer. It’s hot. And a cold beer or crisp Prosecco goes down a treat in the festive season, and although it’s not about abstaining, I think I have ever heard anyone say “gee, I love a hangover”.

Alcohol dehydrates your body which amplifies the concentration in your blood, affecting cognitive function. Alcohol has it’s own kilojoules that your body needs to metabolise and depending which poison you pick, many alcoholic beverages are also high in additional calories from mixers like soft drinks, juices or fruit.

The trick is to choose lower energy drinks like spirits mixed with diet softdrink or soda water and lighter strength beers and always ensure you drink plenty of water prior to and during your drinking session.

For more information about alcohol guidelines and what is a standard drink, visit

3. Keep moving

Every Christmas, I have the same conversation with my personal trainer about how easy we find excuses to ditch our exercise and eating routines as soon as the festive season kicks in. It suddenly becomes easier to snooze the alarm in the morning or choose to stay back late at work and skip your session to finish a job yet, being active is what keeps you sane. So why do you stop what you know is good for you?

Even if you can’t get to the 6pm spin class, it’s still really important to keep moving in some shape or form. Not only do you lose your fitness after 2 weeks of no activity, but the lack of movement perpetuates fatigue and stress leading into Christmas - and that’s all sugar coated by the umpteen candy canes that keep appearing in the staff tea room.

Movement can be anything - dance with your kids, jump on the trampoline or play backyard cricket. Anything that helps to keep your stress hormones (cortisol) down and the feel-good hormones (endorphins) high!

4. Don't let yourself get too busy

Have you ever wondered why suddenly every single friend thinks it’s a great idea to fit in one last catch up before the year’s over? A coffee date, a dinner with the girls, dinner with the kinder mums, work break up party, your partner’s Christmas party, a quick lunch with another girlfriend…

This might sound a little silly, but trust me, you’ll thank me after. 

It’s OK to say no. Or postpone to January because goodness me, January is only another week away.

We try and cram so much into December on top of school term ending, work wrapping up and then shopping for presents and planning menus. Burning the candle at both ends only leaves you feeling exhausted, tired and worn out and that’s before Santa has even arrived! 

It isn’t selfish to take a rain check on certain catch ups or even to opt out for a weekend at home. Sometimes you need to protect days in the diary to allow you time to take care of yourself and give you space to plan and prepare. And once you do this, you’ll never look back.

5. Aim for maintenance; be kind to yourself

Mindset is important and although you may have been making huge gains with your health leading up to Christmas, it’s equally a huge positive if you can navigate the Christmas craziness and start the year continuing what you already started.

We need to acknowledge that celebrations are part of life, and life can’t be put on hold for weight loss. Change your mindset and view this time of year is just like going around a blind bend on the road; you might speed up and try and steer through it but your tyres might slip and slide and you could end up crashing into the barrier. Or you can take a slow and steady approach and drive along the bend feeling in control and on track.

Even if you do slip and slide a little, be kind to yourself. Straighten up the wheel and keep moving forward; there’s always something you can take away from these moments.

Have a wonderful and safe Christmas from the team at The Nutrition Circle!

*Content included on this site is prepared as general information only. It is not advice and should not be substituted for personal advice which takes into account your individual health, financial or other circumstances.