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December 12, 2016

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Tips for a happy healthful Christmas

With Christmas approaching fast nutrition and wellness expert, Kate Cook, looks at what we can do to have a happier and healthier holiday period.

Britain’s construction site-workers are looking forward to shutting down for Christmas, with only a few short weeks to go. It will be a chance for many to return home to families, eat drink and be merry.

Studies have shown that 50% of the average annual weight gain is more likely to be gained between mid-November and Christmas. Of course this culminates in the consumption of a huge 6000 calories (on average) on Christmas Day itself.

That can mean that the return to work in January is made more difficult, because instead of getting a well-earned rest and recovery, the overwhelming feeling is the sluggishness of having over done it.

Here are three tips for a happy and healthful Christmas:


It is said that most emotional problems and unhappiness stem from our difficulties in our relationships. This is never more true than over the Christmas period, where the commercial pressure of having to have a perfect Christmas is ever present.

As the explosive mixture of too much drink, not enough to do (sitting around watching the telly) and your “favourite” relatives combining in one place; many a Christmas Day is spent in a war-zone instead of surrounded by the peace and goodwill of angels singing in sweet harmony, depicted on the cards we send.

To help you relax:

  • Focus on the activity at hand and being present – worrying about everything that needs to be done can be overwhelming.
  • Try to make some time for yourself – getting out and walking is a good one.
  • Let go of it all having to be perfect.
  • Remember – It’s like trying to create the perfect wedding – it’s not the wedding day but the marriage that is the important thing. The same for Christmas. It is about family and connection, not about the perfect Christmas meal.

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Exercise seems to have an important modulatory effect on the immonocyte dynamics and therefore on the immune system. The Christmas break is often when many of us fall prey to some kind of lurgy. Apart from there being more bugs around, it may also be that cortisol, one element of our stress hormones drops as we relax into the break. High cortisol blocks the immune system activating (not a good thing long term) and therefore once the hormone drops, the immune system is reactivated.

Eat mindfully

It’s so easy to load up on all the Christmas trimmings. Being a time of plenty for many there are so many temptations. Mince pies, nuts, chocolates – it’s so easy to pop stuff endlessly into our mouths and keep eating.

Try and stick to the main meals and if you are having these other treats eat them together with a main meal. This way you should already feel full and have a sense of when you have had enough. Thinking about eating slowly helps and chewing helps the digestive juices and, of course, we should drink plenty of water.

Obviously Christmas is a time where we let down our hair, and we are going to over do it to an extent. This year, keep these handy tips in mind.

Have yourself a very merry healthful and happy holiday season.

Kate Cook

Kate Cook is a nutrition and wellness expert and an international speaker. She is also founder and director of the Harley Street clinic The Nutrition Coach. Her clients include the Bank of England, JP Morgan, Network Rail, Abellio, Skanska, Gardiner and Theobald, and EDF Energy.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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steve paul
steve paul
8 years ago

talk about nanny state
this is what is so wrong about H&S
interference in individuals personal lives
people of this ilk would have us eating nothing but vegetables drinking water and be tucked up in bed by 8pm
one life
live it

7 years ago

WTH is this article doing on an OH&S website! I agree with Steve.
Go and live a bah humbug, dull and boring life and leave the rest of us to have some fun at Christmas, then work on our personal fitness regime to remove added weight, detox and regain our health in January.
That’s what proactive and health conscious people do. Unfortunately we’re in the minority; but being a killjoy is not the way to persuade people to live healthier lives.