How To Stay Healthy This Festive Season Plus A Vegan Christmas Recipe

Celebration after celebration can cause much angst for those looking to stay on track with their health goals and avoid a Christmas blowout! The good news is that it is possible to participate fully in the festive season cheer and still keep your diet on track and Nutritionist, Zoe Bingley-Pullin shares her tips to show you exactly how:

image via pinterest

Prioritise sleep

Adequate sleep is not just important to make sure we have energy to enjoy ourselves at Christmas but also to keep our diet on track. It has been shown that lack of sleep can lead to increased intake of sugar and refined carbs. This is simply because when our body lacks energy from poor sleep we get cravings for quick sources of energy. This festive season, put into place habits which encourage a restful nights sleep such as shutting screens off 2 hours prior to bed, exercising daily, eating a balanced dinner to help stabilise blood sugar during the night and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine after 12pm if you are sensitive. I guarantee you will thank yourself in the morning when you wake refreshed!

Aim for balance

When in party mode, it can be all the more tricky to maintain a balanced diet. However, skipping meals in anticipation of overeating at a celebration can trigger overeating and overcompensating for a lack of food. Aim to ensure you still eat 3 balanced meals and prior to a party have a high protein and complex carb rich snack to stabilise appetite and reduce the effects of alcohol. Some balanced meal and snack ideas include:


– 1-2 slices wholegrain seeded toast + ¼ avocado + 2 x eggs
– 1-2 slices wholegrain seeded toast + 1 tbsp. hummus + 1 small tomato + sliced avocado and optional sprinkle of hemp seeds or feta
– smoothie containing milk of choice, hemp seeds, fruit and oat bran
– 2 egg mushroom omelette with a side of sautéed spinach and roasted sweet potato


– leafy salad containing chickpeas, roasted vegetables and a hummus dressing
– brown rice tossed with 1 can salmon, avocado and vegetables of choice
– wholegrain wrap spread with hummus topped with leftover chicken and salad
– tofu and cashew stir-fry with brown rice or quinoa


– 100-200g natural yoghurt + berries/fruit and a sprinkle of LSA
– small chia seed pudding topped with coconut yoghurt and berries
– ½ serve of the breakfast smoothie
– seed crackers with mashed avocado or beetroot hummus
– homemade nut/seed bar 

Recovering from over indulging

If you did happen to indulge a little too much and don’t feel well the next day, the best thing you can do is get straight back on track with balanced eating as opposed to entering into the mindset ‘I’ve blown it, may as well keep going.’ Here are some tips to follow:

– Start the day with some exercise especially if you have woken up feeling full
– Stick to light food for breakfast such as a vegetable juice, fruit with yoghurt or poached eggs and spinach
– Keep food simple and light, have salads, soups and avoid heavy creamy based dishes
– Eat small portions regularly to avoid over working your digestive system
– Drink plenty of water to help your digestive system

Move daily!

Many of us take a hiatus from exercise during the festive season and then struggle to get back into it in the New Year. Avoid viewing exercise in a black and white manner and instead prioritise moving your body daily. This may mean doing less intensive exercise than usual but all that matters is you actually get out and move and stay in the routine of moving. This will not only help you keep up with exercise in the New Year but also make you feel better overall which encourages healthy food choices. Here are some tips to keep you moving:

– Schedule in walking catch ups with friends and family
– Try a new exercise class while you have spare time
– Get outdoors and go for a hike, swim or bush walk
– Start the day with a yoga/stretching routine to calm the mind 

Switch Off

This tip could not be any more relevant than it is in today’s world. Many of us mistake lounging around scrolling on our phone as switching off but this doesn’t quite cut it. It’s important to fully switch off from stimulation from time to time to help reduce stress and clear the mind. Aim to put the phone away daily over the festive season and focus on the people around you as opposed to focusing on how others are spending their break. This will help you enter 2019 feeling rejuvenated and fresh!

Mixed grain, orange and turmeric salad

image via pinterest

Serves 4 as a side
Pre: 45min
Cook: 10min


½ cup cooked brown rice
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup cooked freekeh
1 avocado, pip and seed removed, diced
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 oranges, skin, seeds and pith removed, cut into segments
½ bunch spring onions, finely chopped
¼ bunch coriander, chopped finely
¼ cup toasted mixed seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, hemp


1 tbsp. tahini paste
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. turmeric, ground
1-2 tsp. rice malt syrup
1 clove garlic, crushed
pinch cumin, ground
½ tbsp. lemon juice
pinch salt and pepper 


To make the dressing whisk all ingredients in a small jar and adjust seasoning to suit.

In a large bowl, add all salad ingredients and combine well.

Spoon the salad into a serving bowl, drizzle with dressing and top with additional coriander and seeds.


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