My Survival Guide for a Diet-Friendly Christmas

As I write this survival guide for Christmas I’m talking to myself as much as you because although I make it my business to find new and interesting ways to keep things light, I ADORE Christmas and tend to go a little crazy and OTT. All good habits (and intentions that haven’t made it to habits yet) go out the window at warp speed. Every day 5pm becomes wine o’clock and the cheeseboard comes out along with the chips, dips and bowls of nuts. Any physical activity becomes a distant memory and I seem to upsize everything – my plate, my bowl, my glass and eventually my jeans…..

So I guess you could call this post an open message (and hopeful plan) to myself, a survival guide for a diet friendly Christmas.

Disco Ball


It’s not called the silly season for nothing is it? There’s endless parties, drinkies and general frivolity around every corner. There’s no escaping it (and who would want to), so here’s a few tips for survival:

  • Be the hostess, that way you can manage what’s on the menu and serve up loads of lovely light nibblies and mains.
  • Take a plate (or 2), then you know that there’s at least a couple of lovely light eaties for you to enjoy.
  • Go for the 80:20 rule which is 80% healthy tasty morsels and 20% a little bit naughty. Choose one or two of the most delectable options and enjoy a little bit then you won’t feel deprived. For the rest of the time go for loads of vegetables and other healthy looking yummies.
  • Use a smaller plate and you won’t eat so much. Buffets are everywhere at this time of the year and I don’t know about you but I always eat more when around a buffet. At home I very rarely have seconds but at a buffet thirds seems to be okay. Using a smaller plate will make sure you take only what you really want and you won’t end up eating everything (I can never leave anything on my plate – it’s wasteful……).
  • Sip slowly. Fabulous parties tend to make us excited and when we’re excited we sip quickly (what is it with that?). So slow down and sip mindfully and enjoy every sippity sip.
  • Load up on h2O. Make every second drink a glass of water – have sparkling with a twist of lemon in between those lovely flutes of champers.

wine o'clock

Wine O’Clock

You know what I’m talking about, you can literally hear the clock ticking by from about 4pm onwards towards the time when it’s socially acceptable to pop the first cork. Here’s a few tips for surviving wine o’clock cause avoiding it is just not an option:
Make yourself a spritzer. I am a huge fan of the wine spritzer (wine and sparkling mineral water) – it’s refreshing, it’s bubbly and it slows me down in the alcohol swilling. Some don’t like to add soda water to good wine but I’m okay with it if it means I can enjoy my fave wine while looking after myself too.

  • Make every second drink a glass of water. Not only will you stay hydrated but you’ll limit the amount of alcohol that you’re consuming. It doesn’t have to be luke warm tap water, make it special with a nice sparkling mineral water and a twist of lime, lemon or orange.
  • Swap out creamy dips for salsas. Buy them or make your own, but salsas are a wonderful way to reduce the fat and calories while still indulging with that glass of wine. Love a good nibbly, don’t you?
  • Make your own dips. It’s easy to make your favourite dips by choosing lower fat ingredients to blend with herbs and other goodies. Choose low fat cream cheese, light Greek yogurt, light cream and avocado.
  • Swap the crackers and dip for vegetable sticks and dip. Lovely fresh crunchy vegetable sticks can be great at wine o’clock. And it doesn’t just have to be celery and carrots (although I do so love them), shake it up a little and use capsicum, blanched broccoli and asparagus, radishes and cherry tomatoes.
  • Swap the chips for pretzels for homemade vegetable chips. Any way you can reduce the fat and calories is going to help and you’ll boost your vitamin intake – double bonus!
  • If you’re having a cheeseboard (oh, how I love a cheeseboard), choose lower fat cheeses such as brie, camembert, fetta, goats cheese, edam, ricotta and serve it with grapes, celery, cherry tomatoes and other colourful fruit and vegetables instead of bread and crackers. Cut smaller pieces of cheese for yourself and don’t sit right in front of the cheeseboard like I’ve been known to do on occasion.

Xmas - party decorations1

Christmas Day

Oh my, Christmas Day. It’s the day that I plan for like no other. I spend hours reading recipes, researching online, ordering, shopping and preparing. I. SO. LOVE. CHRISTMAS DAY. But how easy is it to overeat on this special day? In fact, it’s expected isn’t it? We actually plan for it. So here’s a few survival tips for the big day:

  • Choose lean parts of the meat – chicken and turkey breast are always good options as are lean pork loin/fillet and ham.
  • Remove any skin or fat. Now I know that this might be hard but it’s worth it in the end. If you do need to have it, make it a small piece and savour it with eye rolling pleasure.
  • Pile up your plate with vegetables (hopefully they haven’t been cooked in loads of oil or creamy sauces).
  • If you are the lucky cook, choose lean cuts of meat to cook and use cooking spray instead of lugging straight from the olive oil bottle. Honestly, a simple spray is all you need even for those roast potatoes. If you do like a little more oil, measure it out before adding to your vegetables and only use a teaspoon or 2. Add more flavour with herbs.
  • Dessert is a Christmas treat that should be savoured. If you’re enjoying someone else’s cooking and aren’t sure how much of what is in it, go for a small piece and really enjoy it. If you’re cooking, you can make lighter desserts using light custard, cream and yogurt. Load up with seasonal fruit and a little of the more decadent desserts.

Every Day of the Holidays

Every year I take my exercise clothes away with me and every year they come back unworn. And every year I make a promise to myself that I’ll do more exercise this time and so here’s my plan:

  • Do something every day. It could be a walk, a light jog, a swim or a game of tennis but make sure you do it. Even if you don’t want to, just get yourself out the door and the rest will follow. I find if I walk every morning it sets me up for the day.
  • Make exercise fun. Involve those around you and do something you don’t normally do. Hire a bike and ride around the bay, go for a walk in the mountains, play a game of beach volleyball. Or for those of you enjoying a wintery Christmas, walk around the neighbourhood looking at all the beautiful lights, take a walk in the snow or find a heated pool (brrrr) and go for a leisurely swim.

My wish for you (and me) this Christmas is to be happy and healthy, to laugh out loud and hug those you love and to recharge your batteries for next year (that means the odd afternoon snooze I think).

Do you get crazy and over-the-top at Christmas like me or do you stay on track? And more importantly, do you love wine o’clock? Why is it that it only seems to come around at Christmas time…….



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