Surviving the silly season

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 01 December 2021.
Tagged: alcohol, health, healthy eating, nutrition, Silly Season, soft drinks

Surviving the Silly Season
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Christmas means party time. From end-of-year office parties to beach parties, casual soirees and formal functions, your calendar is probably going to be full.

 Of course, you’re going to eat, drink and be merry – you’ll deal with the kilos you’ve piled on later. And don’t forget the extra pressures of trying to get everything done in time, crowds at the shops, battling the traffic, hot weather, increased family expectations and balancing the budget.

Well, you CAN enjoy your Christmas fare and remain slim. Here is a foolproof plan to help you survive the festive silly season without turning into a Christmas pudding.


Christmas survival guide

1. Be prepared

Don’t arrive at a function starving hungry. Before you go out, have a small snack (such as cheese on crackers or a muesli bar) to reduce the chances you’ll overeat when you get there. Some food in your stomach also helps to dampen the effects of drinking alcohol. 

2. Eat light

After having lots of party nibbles, don’t go home and eat a full meal. You’ve probably consumed enough from the nibbles alone. Just make yourself a salad or bowl of cut-up fresh fruit.

3. Be selective at buffets

If you’re facing a smorgasbord, don’t use it as an excuse to eat everything in sight, or try and get ‘your money’s worth’. Survey the spread first and decide what you absolutely must try, and what you can leave. Just focus on what you really fancy and leave the rest.

 Buffet Canapes

4. Stay active

To counter the food you’ve devoured, keep up your exercise. Visit the gym (usually half-empty at this time of year), take up swimming to clear the head, or go for a brisk walk after dinner. You could walk the dog or play cricket in the backyard. Aim to get enough sleep, too.

5. Serve something light

If you are the host of a Christmas party, offer guests refreshing nibbles. Crisp vegetables with a spicy salsa, barbecued prawns, seafood pâté, popcorn or pretzels (instead of crisps), asparagus rolled in ham, or stuffed mushrooms are perfect. Opt for steamed, grilled or stir-fried vegetables; plenty of salad with a drizzle of dressing (this makes the salad taste better and slows down digestion); and fresh seafood, lean meat and chicken dishes.

6. Watch those desserts

In Australia, the month leading up to Christmas is the best time of the year for fruit. In season are stone fruits (nectarines, cherries, peaches, apricots and plums), mangoes and berries. I can’t think of a more refreshing way to finish a meal than with a plate of chilled, sliced fresh fruit. Or serve fruit over vanilla yoghurt or low-fat ice cream.

7. Limit the pig-outs

Keep those overindulgent days to a minimum – the last day of work, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. While two or three days of overeating (when your stomach feels like it will burst) won’t be bad, a whole month of festive feeding will stack on the kilos.

8. Step away from the food

At a party, if you’re a nibbler, don’t hang around the food. Head to the dance floor, find someone to chat with, help the host, chew gum or drink water to keep your hands away from the food.

9. Avoid too much alcohol

Alcohol is packed with kilojoules (calories) and loosens your inhibitions, so you might eat things you normally wouldn’t. Before you drink, eat something healthy to slow the absorption of alcohol into your system (see my first tip). Champagne on an empty stomach is the worst because the bubbles cause your body to absorb the alcohol more quickly.

The bottom line

 Use my Christmas tips to avoid gaining weight during the most fattening time of the year. At this time of year, “success” means keeping your weight steady – and not gaining.

Catherine Saxelby About the author

About the Author


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Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her award-winning book My Nutritionary will help you cut through the jargon. Do you know your MCTs from your LCTs? How about sterols from stanols? What’s the difference between glucose and dextrose? Or probiotics and prebiotics? What additive is number 330? How safe is acesulfame K? If you find yourself confused by food labels, grab your copy of Catherine Saxelby’s comprehensive guide My Nutritionary NOW!