How to keep weight off over Christmas

8 Ways to stay healthy at Christmas (whilst still enjoying yourself!)

Christmas is the season of indulgence, feasting, festivities and treats, and if there’s ever a time of year to let loose a little, it’s now! That being said, research shows that our physical and mental health can suffer at Christmas, with prolonged periods of sitting around and digging into sugary foods having permanent and long-term detrimental effects on health. From a loss of muscle mass and bone density, to a decrease in our cells’ ability to make energy, as well as poorer lung efficiency, [1] a lot can go downhill over the festive period. Studies in the US also reveal that half of annual weight gain occurs in the holiday period, [2] which makes getting back in the gym or seeing results soon after adopting a healthy diet come January 1st even more challenging!

With so many treats and temptations on offer, we want you to enjoy this time of year as much as you can, without feeling guilty. We also want you to feel great as you move into the new year, so you can hit the ground running and feel your best in 2023. That’s why in this blog you’ll learn how to stay healthy at Christmas, with healthy Christmas treats, hacks to boost your metabolism and balance your blood sugar, tips to stress less at Christmas, and more. Read on for our guide to staying healthy at Christmas (whilst still enjoying it!)

1. Stay Active At Christmas

Research from the University of Liverpool found that just two weeks of sedentary behaviour can have permanent and long-lasting effects on health. If the sofa is your go-to spot over the festive season, it’s worth knowing that prolonged periods of inactivity can result in reductions in bone density and muscle mass, and produce metabolic changes that could lead to an increased risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even premature death. The study also revealed significant changes in body composition, and increases in body fat. [3] The study was also conducted on young adults, which means for those already at risk of bone density and muscle mass loss (anyone over the age of 40), staying active at Christmas is even more important.

It’s not just physical health that is impacted by being physically active however; our mental health benefits from movement too. Research from YouGov shows that a quarter of the UK population finds Christmas more challenging for their mental health than the rest of the year, with many people also feeling anxious, stressed and even lonely. [4]

Staying active can help prevent Christmas weight-gain and increased risk of disease, whilst also increasing levels of endorphins (‘happy hormones’) that are released when we exercise, and naturally boost mood levels. Aim to walk for at least 30 minutes per day, and get up from your chair at least once per hour. A Winter nature walk or stroll around the neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights can make a great difference. Maintain muscle mass with brief body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges and even burpees to increase your heart rate and get those endorphins flowing.

2. Choose Healthy Christmas Recipes

Whilst a typical Christmas dinner can contain around 7000 calories, and the average person eats close to 10,000 calories on Christmas day [5], many of those are ‘hidden calories’. Traditional Christmas foods like brussels sprouts, carrots and turkey are actually very healthy, yet it’s the treats, toppings and extras that tend to be the worst for us. On many of the ‘unhealthiest Christmas foods’ lists, these items come up again and again:

  • Sugar cookies
  • Fruitcake
  • Mulled Wine
  • Gingerbread
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Cocktails

Of course, if one of these items is your all-time favourite festive food, enjoy it! Simple ways to make these foods into healthier Christmas treats however, is to make them from scratch instead of buying processed versions, or looking for brands with less additives and preservatives. Try making gravy using a stock cube or the juices from meat, without the added corn starch and flour that goes into many gravy recipes, or make your own mulled wine in the slow cooker, so you get to control how much sugar actually goes into your drinks.

3. Don’t Go Hungry

It may seem strange that we’re telling you to make sure you’re eating enough after listing some of the worst-for-you Christmas foods, but it’s important that you don’t starve yourself in the run-up to Christmas, because it can cause wild blood sugar swings and over-indulging later in the day. Going for too long without eating causes blood sugar levels to drop, which then stimulates a release of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) to be released into the body, and promotes a strong craving for calorie-rich foods, as well as irritability and even physical tremors. If you want to make sure you don’t splurge at Christmas, make sure you’re prepared before you head out. Eat a healthy and balanced snack before a Christmas party, and make sure you consume a protein-rich breakfast before the big day, which will prevent cravings and ‘hangry’ issues later; a breakfast with eggs or a protein smoothie will keep you balanced and satisfied until lunch.  

4. Balance Your Blood Sugar

Balanced blood sugar is one of the most important factors in staying healthy, especially at Christmas. More than 4.9 million people in the UK have diabetes, with 13.6 million people now at risk of developing type 2 diabetes [6], which can be caused by lifestyle factors like inactivity and a high-sugar diet. [7] Blood sugar issues are one of the main factors involved in the development of prediabetes and type-2 diabetes, but unbalanced blood sugar levels can also lead to cravings, brain fog, irritability, fatigue, headaches, waking through the night, and increased anxiety levels. Try these tips for maintaining balanced blood sugar levels at Christmas:

  • Always pair carbohydrate rich foods with proteins to help slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. This prevents a sharp blood sugar ‘spike’, which is then inevitably followed by a ‘crash’.
  • Within your meals, eat your greens first, followed by proteins and fats, and finish with your starches and sugars
  • Take a 10 minute walk after each meal
  • Listen to your body’s cues; if you start to feel shaky, irritable or very fatigued, this could be a sign of low blood sugar. Eat something with balanced carbs and protein, then make sure your next meal contains a balance of all three macros.

5. Hack Your Christmas Hangover

Of course, the easiest way to prevent a hangover is to not drink too much in the first place. Drinking too much alcohol over the festive period can disrupt blood sugar, metabolism, mood, sleep, and pretty much every other aspect that gives us a chance of staying healthy at Christmas. Low alcohol options and alcohol-free drinks are a great way to join in with the social aspect of festive boozing, but without the dreaded side effects the next day. The enzymes in our liver that break down alcohol are also pretty low at lunchtime, which is why that extra glass of wine can make you feel a little more lightheaded than usual.

To prevent a Christmas hangover, make sure you consume a meal at least 1 hour before drinking to help slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream. [8] Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume to prevent dehydration and encourage toxins to be flushed from the body more easily, and be sure to increase your intake of B vitamins on days you’re drinking, as these are severely depleted through alcohol intake, which can lead to fatigue, mood changes, hormone imbalances and skin issues. (grab the Love Life Supplements Vitamin B Complex here). Activated charcoal is another supplement that can help your body detoxify more quickly; take one capsule after drinking, and continue to use the capsules throughout the festive season to help rid your body of toxins more easily, and jump-start your new year detox with greater ease.

6. Boost Your Metabolism

Do you know someone who seems to be able to eat what they want, and never gain weight? Some of this is down to metabolism. Our metabolic rate governs how well we can process foods and drinks, and in very simple terms, influences whether we gain weight from them, or turn the food easily into energy. Maintaining a strong metabolism can help you stay healthy at Christmas, as well as enabling more balanced blood sugar too. Try these simple metabolism-boosting tips:

  • Keep up your strength-training workouts, as the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate will generally be. Maintain muscle mass by consuming plenty of protein and essential amino acids.
  • Move often; people with a higher metabolic rate tend to engage in more NEAT (non-exercise-related-thermogenesis). Simple actions like standing up often, walking, and even fidgeting are all small ways to boost metabolism. [9]
  • Studies show that matcha tea helps boost fat loss when coupled with a brisk walk, turning gentle exercise into an effective metabolism booster . [10]
  • Consume more spices, which have a ‘thermogenic effect’ and boost metabolism. Go for spices like chilli, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and cayenne.

7. Prevent Excess Stress at Christmas

Staying healthy at Christmas is about more than focusing on physical health – our mental health is a vital factor in feeling well too. A quarter of people in the UK feel their mental health is worse at Christmas, with more than half of women feeling stressed around the festive season. [11] Chronic stress increases circulating levels of cortisol, which can contribute to high blood pressure, poor sleep, irritability, as well as an accumulation of fat around the abdomen. Expectations from others, financial pressures, and poor communication about our needs can all cause excess stress at Christmas, so it’s important to take steps to prevent and reduce unnecessary emotional difficulties. If you feel stressed at Christmas, try being open and honest with others; ask for help, share the responsibility of tasks, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to buy expensive gifts. When you feel stress rising up within you, focus on taking slow, long breaths in and out through the nose. A regular practice of meditation can also help prevent stress by allowing you to become more present, rather than letting your mind catastrophise and rush off into the future. 

8. Look After Your Sleep

Getting good quality sleep is perhaps the most important thing you can do to stay healthy at Christmas. Sleep controls our metabolism, blood sugar, mood, cravings, as well as our ability to stay active and happy. A poor night’s sleep can contribute to a reduced ability to handle stress, emotional imbalances, and even contributes to weight gain. Despite the late-night party invites and extra tasks around Christmas, work on improving your sleep quality to get the most out of the time you’re in bed. These tips can all improve your sleep to help you stay healthy at Christmas:

Make sure your blood sugar is stable, to prevent night time waking. Eat an evening meal or bedtime snack with balanced carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

  • Take a warm Epsom salts bath 90 minutes before bed. The Epsom salts will help relax your body, whilst getting out of the bath will trigger the body to cool down, encouraging a release of melatonin (the ‘sleep hormone’)
  • Dim the lights or wear blue light blocking glasses at least an hour before bed
  • Make sure your bedroom is cool
  • Block out as much light as possible, or wear an eye mask
  • If you find it difficult to get to sleep, practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale for a count of 4, hold for 7, and exhale for a count of 8. Repeat a maximum of 5 times.
  • When you get up in the morning, head outside into natural daylight as soon as possible to balance your circadian rhythm, and encourage a good night’s sleep when you head to bed again.

From all of us at Love Life Supplements, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a healthy new year! For more ways to stay healthy at Christmas, check out our healthy Christmas treats recipe here.

  • [1] University of Liverpool. (2017). Just 2 weeks of inactivity could lead to changes that increase risk of developing disease. [Online]. University of Liverpool. Last Updated: 2017. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2022].
  • [2] (.). A PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN. [Online]. NEJM. Last Updated: .. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2022].
  • [3] University of Liverpool. (2017). Just 2 weeks of inactivity could lead to changes that increase risk of developing disease. [Online]. University of Liverpool. Last Updated: 2017. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2022].
  • [4] (2019).How does Christmas impact people's mental health?. [Online]. YouGov. Last Updated: 2019. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2022].
  • [5] Med India. (.).How to Keep Christmas Calories under Control. [Online]. Medindia. Last Updated: 2014. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2022].
  • [6] Diabetes UK. (.).Diabetes Statistics. [Online]. Diabetes UK. Last Updated: .. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2022].
  • [8] Ramsbottom A, van Schalkwyk MCI, Carters-White L, Benylles Y, Petticrew M. Food as harm reduction during a drinking session: reducing the harm or normalising harmful use of alcohol? A qualitative comparative analysis of alcohol industry and non-alcohol industry-funded guidance. Harm Reduct J. 2022 Jun 25;19(1):66. doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00648-y. PMID: 35752850; PMCID: PMC9233813.
  • [9] Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec;16(4):679-702. doi: 10.1053/beem.2002.0227. PMID: 12468415.
  • [10] Willems MET, Şahin MA, Cook MD. Matcha Green Tea Drinks Enhance Fat Oxidation During Brisk Walking in Females. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018 Sep 1;28(5):536-541. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0237. Epub 2018 Jun 19. PMID: 29345213.
  • [11] (2019).How does Christmas impact people's mental health?. [Online]. YouGov. Last Updated: 2019. Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2022].
  • [12] Medic G, Wille M, Hemels ME. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017 May 19;9:151-161. doi: 10.2147/NSS.S134864. PMID: 28579842; PMCID: PMC5449130.

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