cracker1With Christmas just around the corner, we are embarking upon the season of eating and drinking – but this year, why not make it the season of being healthy too?

It is perhaps inevitable that we will over-indulge at this time of year (and after all it is the party season!) But by making just a few small changes to our usual habits, we could do ourselves the world of good.

All too often, we make an ongoing effort to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle throughout the year – and then simply abandon this at Christmas, loading our bodies full of food and alcohol, and quite forgetting the negative effect it has on the digestive system – and indeed our body as a whole.

So here are a few pointers on how you can enjoy the eating, drinking and merriment whilst still looking and feeling your best!


  • Rather than tucking in to the family size box of chocolate assortments, why not stock up on healthy snacks such as juicy little satsumas and even fresh figs – delicious and healthy too!
  • If you’re a real chocolate addict, opt for dark chocolate – its intense flavour and more bitter taste usually means you don’t want to eat as much!
  • Savoury snacks such as pretzels, twiglets or unsalted nuts (which contain good fats) are always a healthier alternative to crisps.
  • Christmas dinner is your perfect opportunity to work towards your five-a-day portions of fruit and veg – so make sure you load up on Brussels sprouts and carrots as they are full of antioxidants.
  • When it comes to puddings, if you’re going for a traditional Christmas pudding, then for a healthy change why not try custard made from skimmed milk or even fresh fruit as an alternative to brandy butter.

Below are some other healthier alternatives to all those traditional Christmas indulgences!

Traditional festive treats

Healthier alternatives

Calorie savings

Sweet Sherry

136 kcal (175ml)

Dry fino style Spanish sherry 96 kcal (175ml)

40 kcal

Small Packet of crisps

181 kcal

8 sesame rice crackers

60 kcal

121 kcal

Cream liquors (eg, Baileys)

Kcal 130 (37g serving)

Grappa or limoncello

75 kcal (37g serving)

55 kcal

2 tbsp double cream

269 kcal

2 tbsp Low fat Greek yoghurt 63 kcal

206 kcal

A handful of chocolate assortments 269 kcal (5 pieces /40 grams)

A handful of unsalted almonds 122 kcal

(26 pieces/ 28 grams)

147 kcal

A portion of trifle

437 kcal

A portion of satsumas in brandy 150 kcal

287 kcal

A slice of Christmas cake

646 kcal

A slice of Italian panettone

300 kcal

346 kcal

For more information about your Christmas calories visit


  • Don’t forget about your usual fitness regime completely just because it’s Christmas. If you can’t get to the gym, go for a long walk, check out your local outdoor Christmas ice skating rink – or take advantage of the current snowy situation and burn off calories by building a giant snowman!
  • Remember to keep stress levels down, Christmas day is without doubt one of the most celebrated days of the year but can also be the most stressful; make sure you take time to relax. Exercise helps reduce stress levels – wrap up warm and take a brisk walk to the park with your iPod or personal stereo in tow and listen to some of your favourite Christmas songs!
  • Try to plan activities after dinner and take the opportunity of having the whole family under one roof; board games can be fun, especially Twister which is a great way of getting a bit of exercise in at the same time!

Social/Christmas parties

  • Christmas without all the numerous glasses of sherry, mulled wine and creamy liqueurs may seem odd – but alcohol can irritate the stomach and aggravate indigestion, so try to alternate between alcoholic and soft drinks (or better still, water) to reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Lower-calorie alcoholic drinks such as a single measure of spirit with a diet mixer (50 calories), dry wine or fino style Spanish sherry (96 calories) are better alternatives to sweet sherry or mulled wine.
  • If, despite your best intentions, you wake up feeling sluggish and bloated after the big office party, a smoothie with milk or yoghurt can help settle your stomach and neutralise any acid reflux.
  • Remember, never drink on an empty stomach as food in the stomach helps to delay the absorption of alcohol into your blood stream. So, if you’re rushing to a party straight from work, make sure you have something to eat beforehand.

Above all, have a happy healthy Christmas – this blogger is now off until the New Year, so see you all again in 2011!

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