Damian Lewis on Helen McCrory’s final heartbreaking message to her family
Damian Lewis on Helen McCrory’s final heartbreaking message to her family

Amanda Cassidy

The Covid weight gain: One woman’s plan to get out of her comfort eating rut
The Covid weight gain: One woman’s plan to get out of her comfort eating rut

Louise Slyth

What to bake this weekend: Nutella soufflés with caramelised pretzels
What to bake this weekend: Nutella soufflés with caramelised pretzels

Meg Walker

Marianne Smyth, aka @smythsisters, on her top summer shopping picks
Marianne Smyth, aka @smythsisters, on her top summer shopping picks

Holly O'Neill

How an architect planned the layout of her own extension
How an architect planned the layout of her own extension

Megan Burns

The Vow: A gripping must-watch documentary to binge this weekend
The Vow: A gripping must-watch documentary to binge this weekend

Jennifer McShane

GALLERY: 30 standout Oscars gowns over the years
GALLERY: 30 standout Oscars gowns over the years

Jennifer McShane

Image / Editorial

How I’m staying (kind of) healthy over the Christmas break


by Ellen Bird
18th Dec 2018
blank

Once December begins, it’s like a Christmas party extravaganza, every day. By now, I’m sure you’ve already attended one too many festive season shindigs; and while Christmas season is absolutely the most magical time of the year, it’s also the most indulgent – full of divine temptations.

I naively began December thinking I’d eat super clean until Christmas Eve, before an indulgent few days ahead of #newyearnewme. I didn’t want to feel sleepy, bloated and stressed wearing tight and sparkly LBD’s to every Christmas party on my December hit-list. But I’ve a not-so-fun-fact – I’m allergic to dairy, eggs and soy (newly discovered and still a touchy subject), so I’m limited to what I can actually eat, treat-wise.

When you have a sweet tooth like myself, there’s no messing around; you find alternatives, quick. So my list of ideas about how to improve was longstop eating out so much, make myself nourishing breakfasts instead of eating sourdough bread, no vegan chocolate, and consume more greens and vitamins. Most humans can’t overhaul absolutely everything in one go. I’m one of those people; the massive makeover list was a recipe for disappointment.

Eating my veggies, drinking herbal tea, and not eating bread lasted a whole four days. Our Christmas party dinner began with a fabulously decorative bread bowl, chock-full of starchy goodnessI was inside it before our waiter had a chance to back away. What can I say, I’m a carbs girl. While most people aren’t allergic to e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g like myself (#dramatic), it’s not only fancy Christmas parties that present a challenge. There are also succulent mince pies circulating the office, a box of Celebrations in the doctor’s office, bottles of Bailey’s lining your fridge door, a boyfriend who loves food, and endless booze-filled nights with friends.

While I’m fully supportive of a YOLO attitude when it comes to Christmas cookies and munching on yet another mince pie before dinner, you also want to feel good and have plenty of energy to see you through until New Year’s Eve. So since my ‘no bread’ policy didn’t stick around for long, I’m focusing on 1) Balance 2) Mindful eating, and 3) Homemade, semi-healthy treats. I know, not so revolutionary.

I’m an all or nothing kinda gal, so I’m usually either bingeing on high-caloric treats or no sweets at all, but that’s not sustainable and decidedly un-festive. I don’t want to diet, I want to eat nutritiously (and joyfully). I don’t want to lose weight, but I do want to be mindful and intentional about the foods I’m choosing to consume. I don’t want to exercise more self-control, but instead just listen to my body.

You can still party until 3am, knock back a shot of Tequila, indulge in a sweet bowl of crème brûlée at your Christmas party outing AND still maintain a healthy lifestyle. Denying yourself will only lead you to binge on a platter of blue cheese and crackers while standing at the kitchen counter, after inhaling a leftover turkey sandwich. But if you’re looking to make healthier choices this Christmas, do what I’m doing and focus on baking your own nutty chocolate mince pies, vanilla peanut butter fudge, and dark chocolate orange cake, made from natural, simple (and understandable) ingredients.

When faced with an abundance of #eats, genuinely implementing a thoughtful approach to nourishing ingredients and what exactly you’re putting into your body will avoid you feeling restricted. So if I scoff down too much Loving Earth chocolate (highly recommend for all you dairy-free fans out there), I might start the next day with a refreshing smoothie rather than a stack of pillowy pancakes with extra almond butter. As I said before, balance. Don’t be afraid to let go of the rules a bit, but maybe, just maybe, don’t go back for seconds.