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  • Nutrition

    How to Avoid a Food Coma at Christmas

    Simone Austin
    Written by Simone Austin | Dietitian
    Avoid a food coma at Christmas

    Who doesn’t enjoy a celebration and the spirit of the festive season? With most Christmas celebrations comes food and drink, often in abundance. In order to leave you feeling fresh as a daisy rather than slow and sluggish, (avoid the food coma), here is my guide to survive the food and fluid of the silly season.

    Pace yourself and plan ahead

    What functions have you got coming up? If there are a few in a row, plan ahead. Which will you have an alcoholic beverage or two and which will you sit on the water? Remember there is no rule about having to drink at all, the choice is yours.

    When an array of food is on offer, choose which of these foods you would really enjoy. Take a serving, eat and really enjoy it! Back away from the buffet. See how you go visiting once, and again choose which foods you most desire. Remember, quality over quantity. There is nothing to say you must try everything. You can say no. When grandma insists you try her trifle, pavlova and Christmas cake but you prefer the cheesecake and fresh berries, then politely say no thank you and choose what you desire.

    Focus on fresh fruit and veggies - eat a rainbow

    Vegetables don’t have to be boring, they can be a highlight of a meal, even Brussels sprouts can taste great when pan-fried in extra virgin olive oil, so include them in your festive fare. Think of how good roast potatoes, pumpkin and carrots taste along with fresh green beans and sweet peas.

    Have you been asked to bring a dish, how about fresh salads with festive flare? Add fresh nuts, mango and a range of greens in salads. Baby spinach, watercress, snow peas and more, with balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs and avocado, drizzled with nut or olive oils.

    When making antipasto platters or munching on dips, cut up fresh vegetables to dip to balance out crackers. Serve the vegetables up first, they deserve to be the hero.

    Be creative with leftovers

    Leftovers can be a great help over holiday time. They can reduce cooking and shopping time. We don’t need to eat everything up at once to prevent waste and then find we need to restock and cook again. Be creative with what you have. Left over ham can go into a homemade fried rice with plenty of vegetables, with an omelette or chopped into a salad. Ham is rather salty so don’t go adding more.

    Left over roast meats make great additions to salads e.g. warm chicken or lamb salad. They also make tasty toasted sandwiches with tomato and roast onion. In summer we still have cold days where extra meat and vegetables make a quick, delicious soup or curry.


    Start the trend of nourishing gift-giving. Boxes of fresh cherries, raspberries, mangoes, nuts, cheeses, peaches, pots of herbs, oils and vinegars. This supports local farmers and makes a great day out of fruit picking with friends or family as well. It will speed the Christmas shopping up and save finding a car parking at an over crowded shopping centre looking for gifts that you don’t know what to buy. A fresh food parcel s in place of a box of biscuits or confectionery will be a gift that keeps on giving and won’t expand the waist line.


    Enjoy the traditional festive treats, as without guilt you are more likely to find balance. When short breads are forbidden, they become irresistible. When you give yourself permission to eat them anytime, you will find they can wait. It can help to keep these until Christmas rather than starting weeks before.

    Over indulgence on one day will not damage your health. It is what you do for most of the year that counts. Over eating though, especially numerous days in a row can leave you feeling unwell and less likely to enjoy. Indulge a little whilst being aware. Ask yourself a few questions first. What do I feel like, rather than having some of all? You can always plate up and some for another day.

    By surrounding yourself with quality, fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seafood, lean meats and delicious whole grains (think crusty sour dough bread) you may find you reach for these more often than you thought, keeping you feeling fresh and well, while others struggle in a food coma through the festive season!