Surviving the Christmas Table


The Christmas season can often be a time of overindulgence. We could all do with some reminders and tips on how to take great care of ourselves so that we cab survive the Christmas table as best as we can without setting ourselves back too much. 

Enjoy the social aspects of this season, but don’t forget to plan your meals. Preparation and making some specific health decisions ahead of time can be very helpful rather than just blindly approaching the festivities and not really having a plan in place.

Some things to think about when making food choices over this time include: 

  • Ask yourself if you are hungry or just eating for the sake of eating
  • Think about the treats you are eating
  • Don’t be tempted to overeat – save some and enjoy the leftovers later

Christmas is a time when most people snack more than usual so choosing healthy snack alternatives can be helpful and can reduce the caloric load on our bodies. These include:

  • Replace carb-heavy alternatives with protein, cheeses, vegetable platters and low carb fruits.
  • Replace crackers and breads with lower carb varieties, like seed-crackers or breads made with nut flours.

Avoid skipping meals or arriving at a party hungry. Instead of buying unhealthy snacks, consciously buy healthy snacks such as nuts, dried fruit, biltong etc. If you do indulge, have a small portion of the guilty pleasure so that you don’t feel completely deprived, but don’t overdo it so that you feel guilty or uncomfortable afterwards. Cook wholesome foods, even a braai with lots of salads is a healthy option and socially enjoyable. Eat slowly, savour your food and enjoy the time spent with loved ones socially.

Keep active. Holiday times are much more flexible, and we’re spoilt for choice with outdoor activities. Including the whole family can make exercise fun and enjoyable. Walks on the beach, in the forest or on the mountain are great to do, otherwise hire bicycles and cycle along the promenade if you don’t have your own bike. There are also many trails and hikes that can be done at various levels of intensity.

Try not to overdo it on alcohol intake – remember alcohol contains empty calories, but it also creates a toxic build-up in the body that takes a while to get rid of. Repeated over-indulgences will leave you feeling a little flat going into the new year. Stick to alcoholic beverages that are not creamy or sweet and remember to drink lots of water daily. Juices like celery juice or other green juices can be supportive to reduce the acidity, mineral depletion and electrolyte imbalances caused by excesses.

Take tine to rest and relax. Take naps and enjoy the down time after the busyness of the year. Even if you’re not on holiday, schedules are generally more relaxed so take advantage of the opportunity to take it a little easier.


  • Enjoy small portions of healthy treats
  • Do some exercise, get creative, enjoy active family time
  • Get enough rest and sleep
  • Have fun and enjoy social interaction

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 21 December 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am.