Imagine Health

Maintaining a Healthy Balance at Christmas Time

Christmas Time…Gluttony and Wine….

Christmas time provides us with the chance to spend quality time with loved ones. However, copious amounts of food and alcohol are typically involved in this festive season, and it’s hard to find a balance. It is easy to crack open that box of chocolates and bottle of wine when guests are over, and before you know everything is gone!!

Most of us are familiar with sluggish, bloated and tired feeling we get after overindulging, especially over the Christmas break. And we all, at some point, have sworn to ourselves that next year we won’t overindulge as much. But often the cycle repeats itself, despite your best intentions.

Overindulgence can not only cause negative physical feelings, it can impact negatively on your psychological well-being. When we spend prolonged hours inactive, watching Christmas movies on TV and chomping on treats, we quickly become drained in energy, because our bodies aren’t being fuelled properly. It then becomes harder for you to get active, so a walk is certainly out of the question! It can sometimes even get to the point that going Christmas shopping can seem like an insurmountable task unless you have your sugar-laden Starbucks Vanilla White Chocolate Mocha with extra cream!! Lacking on energy can impact negatively on our mood, bringing on spells of low mood, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Sugar in foods can also lead to fluctuations in blood sugars and can bring on mood swings. It can also cause inflammation which has been linked to a greater risk of depression.

Christmas is also typically a time for overconsumption of alcohol. However, it is important to be mindful of our alcohol intake because not only does it contribute to a loss of inhibitions, but it is also a depressant. This can be a dangerous combination for anyone who is already feeling low in mood, or has been having suicidal thoughts. Additionally, too much alcohol will leave you with a hangover, which let’s be honest, can make you feel worse than ever! So, it’s important to find a balance with your alcohol intake.

Top Tips for finding a balance at Christmas

Below are ways you can balance your food and alcohol intake over the Christmas period to ensure that you are feeling your best, both physically and mentally!

Be mindful of your portions. It’s important not to deny yourself anything you want over the holiday period, but it is important to be mindful of how much you consume. The key is moderation, so perhaps take 2 biscuits instead of 4 when the tin is handed around.

Make sure to include exercise into your time off. With all the free time you will have over the Christmas break there is no reason why you cannot fit in a chance to exercise. Even if it is a gentle stroll with the family, it is better to keep active and moving, for both your mind and body.

Don’t go anywhere hungry. It can easily happen, you planned to have lunch at home, but then a friend called asking if you wanted to go shopping. Soon enough you have skipped your homemade lunch and have chosen a much bigger and indulgent lunch out in a café. Making sure you eat before you go out anywhere will help you avoid snacking on calorie and sugar laden foods.

Eat/Drink Mindfully. A lack of mindfulness when eating is one of the biggest reasons people overeat. When we are not being mindful, we do not pay attention to our body when it is telling us that it is full. As a result, we often continue to eat until the point we feel sick. Learning to be mindful while eating, by taking notice of all the sensations when eating, will help you listen to your body and register when you have had enough food.

But let’s be honest, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little bit of overindulgence. The secret is to find a balance, and spread it out over the whole Christmas period!

Happy Christmas!


Written by Nicola Keane

Assistant Psychologist