Keep overindulgence in-check and still enjoy the festive season – with some help from California Raisins?

By Rick Miller, Clinical and Sports Dietitian, Harley Street, London

The countdown to the big day is well and truly upon us. Surrounded by the tempting treats, alcoholic tipples and the prospect of a Christmas jumper to hide the extra pounds – it’s easy to let yourself, as well as the turkey get merrily ‘stuffed’ with delicious foods.

According to The British Dietetic Association, the average Brit will consume an extra 6000 calories on Christmas Day alone, that’s three times more than the recommended amount per day and for some may lead to approximately 5 pounds of weight gain over the holiday season.

It may seem like the healthy diet you’ve kept all year is ‘destined-to-fail’ but in reality it is anything but. With a little bit of planning around the festive fun, you stand a greater chance of success despite the temptation.

Here are my 5 top tips for the holiday season to help you not to overindulge too much but still enjoy yourself:

  1. Commit to keeping active. Think that long walk after Christmas lunch is all for nothing, think again. Whilst it may seem like you’re pushing back a ‘calorie tsunami’, keeping active has been shown to counteract the effects of the extra calories in the short term and whilst not everyone may be up for a jog or workout on Christmas day, maybe this year skip the lounging around and watching the Queen’s speech for a brisk, bracing walk after Christmas lunch come rain or shine.
  2. Don’t forget to fill up on fibre. Whilst there’s a lot of sweet and rich foods in and around Christmas: pies, cakes, pastries, sweets and chocolates – that don’t really put a big tick in the box for health, there’s also a decent amount of fibre-rich foods that might just save some of the waistline expansion – You can read all about the benefits of fibre in my article here. So my tip for you on Christmas Day is to really emphasise foods that are rich in fibre – such as raw and cooked vegetables, fresh, tinned and dried fruits. Make sure you fill your Christmas Lunch plate with vegetables before putting all the other items on and you’ll hit your fibre target faster. If the prospect of Brussel sprouts is turning you a shade of greenwhy not try this festive California Raisins Bacon Brussel Sprouts recipe?
  1. Give yourself some healthy snack alternatives. Aside from Christmas day itself, for many, the fact that festive treats can start appearing in our offices and homes weeks beforehand makes it all the more difficult. Rather than succumbing to the “what the heck effect” and eating all the treats after just one, keep those tempting treats out of sight initially and make sure you have healthy options to hand, raw and unsalted nuts, fresh fruit and dried fruit, such as California Raisins are all nutrient and fibre-rich choices that might just take that sweet edge off before tucking into all the treats.
  2. Lay off the festive ‘cheers’. It really surprises many that 6 units of alcohol (two or more standard glasses of wine) or more in a single session is considered a binge according to NHS safe drinking recommendations and unfortunately this does have consequences for our health, particularly our liver During the festive season, these ‘binges’ tend to ramp up in frequency due to work Christmas parties and social gatherings – so how can you traverse this during the holiday season? Simple things such as choosing alcohol free drinks at the event, alternating your drinks with an alcohol free choice or even going as far as changing your office Christmas tradition to an alcohol-free trip to the theatre or Christmas market can all work wonders to cut down.
  3. It’s just one day so be kind to yourself. It seems like a straightforward point but Christmas really is just one day. Accept that in the spirit of moderation, a healthy relationship with food and celebrating with family and friends that there will be a few treats here and there and that is more than ok, delicious food is more than just calories. In fact, some limited research has shown that people who over-restrict and try to lose weight over the holiday season actually end up gaining weight! That doesn’t mean to throw in the towel entirely, but if your goal at the moment is shifting the extra pounds, Christmas might not be the best time to do it.

Christmas is truly a special time of the year where traditional foods might throw a bit of a dilemma into the healthy eating plan for a short time. For many, it can be a tempting to give up on all the nutritious choices until the new year but it doesn’t have to be that way. With some small adjustments, Christmas eating can be merry and healthy!

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas!

Could a serving of California raisins be a solution? By Rick Miller, Clinical and Sports Dietitian, Harley Street, London

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About the Author: 

Rick Miller is a registered Clinical and Sports Dietitian based in Harley Street, London.

You can find out more about Rick at