Crushing your nutrition goals this festive season

Hand crushing donut

December and January are loaded with family, fun, food, drinks and spontaneity. If you’ve set yourself some key health or performance goals across this time, then you could be feeling anxious about getting through the next couple of months.

So how do you strike the balance between living life and hitting goals over Christmas? Here are some strategies that myself and my clients are using this season.

1. Know what you want to achieve over the break

For some people, winning could simply be maintaining fitness or body composition, whilst others are chasing a change. Come 2 January, what exactly do you want to see in the mirror or on the scales and how do you want to feel in the gym.

My example:
I want maintain my weight, improve my cardiovascular fitness and maintain my strength.

2. Pick 3 occasions to purely have fun and then moderate the others

Draw up a calendar and map out your holidays.

  • When are the events on?
  • When are you travelling?
  • When are people coming to stay?

Next highlight the biggest or special events. Choose your 3 favourite events to drink, eat and forget about calories. Then plan for how you will manage your food and drinks at the other events so that you can stay on track for your goals.

My example:
My top 3 events is one of my family Christmas dinners, new year’s eve and my engagement party. At these events, I’m purely focused on having fun. At the other events, I’ll plan ahead to follow some of the strategies below.


3. Get the portions right!

Let’s be real, portions at Christmas time are about 20 billion times the size of the meals we’d usually eat.

  • Choose a small plate–usually, you’ll stop filling the plate when there is no room. If there is less room on the plate, you’ll have less food.
  • Fill at least half of your plate with salad or vegetables. These are generally lower in calories but higher in fibre and fluid so that you feel satisfied but lighter at the end of a meal.
  • Fill the remaining space with meats, grains, potatoes, creamy dishes etc.
  • If you go back for seconds, try to stick to mostly salads or vegetables.

4. Eat slowly and mindfully

With lots of nibblies around, endless courses and table banter, it’s easy to get lost in the moment and eat mindlessly. You get to the end of your second serve and wonder where it all went. One of the best ways to get to the end of the day with energy and a comfortable belly is to pay attention to your food and your body cues as you eat. Treat every mouthful as if it was cooked for you personally by Jamie Oliver (my favourite).

Think about the smell, texture, taste of each mouthful. Eat slowly and put your cutlery down between each mouthful. Chew well. Pause halfway through your meal and register how your stomach is feeling, how much more until you are comfortably full? Pause again ¾ of the way through, are you comfortably full or should you have more? Either way, try to listen to your body’s signals.

5. Choose to eat or drink

There will be some occasions or parties where it seems impossible to control what you’re consuming. If you know you are going to drink a few more than a few, try to manage/limit the food side. If you know you are going to eat lots of food, try to manage the drinking side. Remember you don’t need to drink, a diet soft drink or soda water with lime, looks exactly the same in your hand as any spirit and mixer.

6. Set yourself up for a good morning after

Its been a big night, you’re ready for pizza for breakfast. No, you told me you don’t even like pizza. If you know you have a particular craving the morning/day after a big night, prep a healthy version or organize to go out for a café brunch with friends. Make sure you’ve got food in the fridge for the rest of the day and plenty of hydralyte and fluids to kick the headache.

7. Start the day with a healthy habit

Start the day with a walk, a surf, green tea, big glass of water or a fancy cooked breakfast to get you in a ‘health’ mindset for the day. If you’ve started the day on a good note, I find that you’re more likely to want to keep up that winning goal-kicking feeling for the rest of the day.


8. Keep up your training and make it social.

Keep moving in ways that you enjoy over the holidays. This might be your current program or it could be a new style of training for a couple of weeks to keep you motivated. If you are travelling, find out which gyms have casual passes or sneak onto a free trial (yes, I am that person). You don’t need to go as hard as you usually would, just try to keep moving so that it is easier to get back into training and routine when holidays are over. Organise to go with friends or family, make some sessions fun, light hearted and social.

Also make sure to book in with your trainer as soon as you get back from holidays to get straight into it all.

My example:
I won’t be in Brisbane, so I’ll be sneaking onto a couple of 2 week trials and casual gym passes. I’ve never been a HIIT style training gal but might give it a go to supplement some of my current training to keep me motivated with something new over the break. I’ll also be increasing my running and walking. I’ve also scheduled a pilates class for the day after I get back to Brisbane.

9. Order click & collect for the day you return

If you are going away, jump on click and collect and order your groceries for when you return. No one wants to go grocery shopping after getting back from a holiday but we do want to achieve our goals ASAP.

Holidays should be a time to rest and it’s okay to put striving to the side and purely enjoy your time off. However, if you do have time-based goals, these tips will be helpful for keeping you on track whilst having a good time.

Hannah Wilson is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist directing her own private practice, All Bodies Services in East Brisbane and online. She is passionate about working with her clients to assist them in understanding the relationship between our feelings, thoughts and behaviours around food. To book in a consultation, contact

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