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  • Writer's pictureOrsolya Szathmari

My Top Tips For A Healthy Christmas


Christmas is about family traditions, celebration, joy and sharing time with our loved ones - and it is also a lot about food.

When it comes to eating, Christmas is one of the most difficult periods for many of us to keep up with our healthy food choices. Many traditional meals are not the healthiest food options and they are definitely not low-carb, keto or part of the Paleolithic-Ketogenic Diet. Sugar, sweets and high-carbohydrate foods are all around us and staying in ketosis can be challenging. We need to focus on what and when we eat even more than we normally would. Along with food quality, quantity and overeating are the other pitfalls during the holidays.

Not only are our eating habits and family set-up different at Christmas, but our exercise routine changes too. There is less time to go to the gym, however it is a good opportunity to be outdoors and move more in general. Tension and stress can also be more intense for many while spending time with the extended family while having less time to relax.

I would like to share some strategies with you on how to survive this period with eating well, staying happy and calm. Follow my thips for a healthy Christmas.


4 red candles burning with a decorated Christmas tree in the background
4ht Sunday Of Advent

Diet

The food we eat is the most important pillar of our health. In my view, it’s far more important than any other parameters.

If you follow a well-formulated ketogenic diet or the Paleolithic-Ketogenic Diet, then you already know how much they help to improve your health. And this happens for two reasons: on the one hand, avoiding many food groups reduces inflammation in our body, and on the other hand, eating excellent quality meals high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates, gives us all the nutrients we need and keeps us in a state of ketosis.

But there are times - such as Christmas - when this knowledge is not enough. We need to remind ourselves why we eat this way and remember the health challenges we faced in the past.

So can we stick to our diet during the holidays? I am sure we can. And I have some tips for you on how to.

First of all, eat at home most of the time. If this is not possible because of traveling, for example, my advice is to take food with you. Always keep some additive-free smoked slab, sausage, dried ham or self-made meat-liver pâté at home, so that you can easily grab it when you have to leave for the day. This way you will not need to eat out or buy something that is not safe.

If you overeat at one meal, just skip the next (couple of) meal(s) to give your body a rest and avoid too many calories.


There is still enough time to prepare a few jars of this whole-meal pâté. It contains all the nutrients you need: the right amount of red meat, liver, bone marrow and fat in the ideal fat to protein ratio .

meat-liver paté in a jar
Meat-Liver Pâté


If you are invited for dinner, there are different options:

  • Let the host know the exact list of foods you eat. Do it well in advance before the party. If he/she is a family member or a good friend, usually this will not be a problem. Most probably they can prepare something that you can also eat.

  • Take your food with you. This option may be the easiest and safest for everyone.

  • Eat at home before and simply socialize at the party. This is feasible when there is a buffet setting but might be uncomfortable for some of us when seated at a table and the main focus of the evening is eating.

  • Simply skip the invitation. This really depends on your priorities. If you have a serious disease to heal, then there is no room to eat foods that stop you from getting better and make you sicker.

  • Be the host yourself! In this case things are much easier. You can serve the meals you can also eat for everyone with side dishes and desserts, that you can skip. If you have a serious condition, just skip all foods that don't fit into your current choices. If you are already healed and can consume the allowances, then some vegetables and an approved dessert will not cause any problems after a nutritious meal.


I also recommend you to prepare keto/carnivore/paleo-keto cookies and desserts (Christmas Recipe Collection) for this period. So if you want, you can enjoy these while others are having traditional Christmas cakes and sweets.

Cake served on a plate
Christmas Cake, grain-free, dairy free, nut-free

Alcohol is a major topic. If you have a disease, I very strongly recommend to avoid all alcohol even during Christmas time. A good alternative is a glass of sparkling water with ice cubes. You might add a slice of non-treated lime or lemon to it for decoration.

If you are healthy, it’s still the best to limit alcoholic drinks. If you allow yourself a glass while celebrating with your family, it probably will not have big consequences. I recommend avoiding beer and sweet drinks at all times.


Physical activity/Sports

If you are healthy, you can do your favorite sports.

I personally like to do weight training three-four times a week. I also stretch regularly, 3-4 times a week. Being flexible is very beneficial and stretching is the tool to achieve and maintain flexibility. Additionally, I do about 1-1.5 h walk every day with my dog. During the weekend or when I have more time, these can turn into longer hikes including up-and downhill parts. Lucky me, I am living in Switzerland.

If you don’t have the possibility to go to the gym during Christmas, make sure that you walk every day and do some stretching.


woman hiking in the snow with a dog
Hiking Is So Much Fun In Winter

Sleep is crucial. Many people do not realize how important a good night's sleep is. Our body and mind need this rest for recovery. We need to make sure that we sleep about 8 h each night, and ideally go to bed between 10-11 pm. At least 2 hours before this we should avoid artificial lights as much as possible and do only relaxing things to make sure that we have completely calmed down before bed time. I recommend to switch your phone off and not to read/watch the news and social media. Avoid alcohol, and if you drink coffee, don’t drink it after 1-2 pm.

Being in the sun/natural light during the day can help a lot for a good night's sleep too. Even in winter, and even if the sunrise is late and it’s a cloudy day, be outside as much as possible.

If you have difficulties to fall asleep, you can practice different breathing techniques and meditation. I find the Buteyko technique great and very helpful.


Friends & Family

Be with people who you really like and whose company you enjoy. If possible, and as much as possible, avoid those others who make you feel bad, anxious and sad. Physical contact makes wonders. Make sure that you hug somebody every day ;) Be patient if you are with people who you don’t feel connected to. Do fun things. Play games, go for long walks, share the cooking and all the housework - this way the host won’t be completely overwhelmed and stressed out. Laugh and be happy! Optimize your mindset. Be present for yourself and for the others. Be kind and relaxed.


Mindset

When you don’t have a choice and need to spend time with those family members who you don’t get along well, take it easy and stay calm. You have nothing to lose if you are kind. If you need some “me” time in between, go away for a few minutes and do your meditation or breathing, have a walk alone to rebound. Find the best technique that works for you. It can be just being in nature or petting your dog, for example. Be grateful for what you have! Gratitude has been shown multiple times to be beneficial to our well-being.

Be excited about something every day!


beautiful christmas flower
Amaryllis


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