Why being flexible in the holiday season matters

With only 10 days to go until Christmas (and counting), the festive season can be challenging when it comes to making healthy food choices. Every year at this time, recipes and tips for eating nutritiously over Christmas pop up all over the web. While I admire the efforts of many of these authors, often I can’t help but think that:

a) Many of these recipes really don’t look particularly appetising. Enjoyment of food and feasting is important to all cultures, and we all need a “free pass” every now and again.

b) What you eat on one day of the year (1/365th of what you eat overall) doesn’t really make any difference to your overall nutrition. It’s what you eat on the remaining 364 days that counts.


Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Orthorexia is a word that has entered popular vernacular in the past few years. The ‘condition’ is about as legit as other nebulous food-related terms, such as being ‘hangry’ (hungry-angry, something I am certainly prone to!), or following a ‘detox diet’ (your liver and kidneys do this for you on a daily basis, don’t waste your money).

The Dietitians’ Association of Australia defines orthorexia as encompassing

“…strict and inflexible eating behaviours, where a person has rules about how much food should be eaten and the timing of meals or avoidant-based eating practices due to misguided beliefs on what they perceive as healthy.

Orthorexia starts out as a true intention to eat healthy foods but it is taken to the extreme.” Source


Courtesy of stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of stock images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Orthorexia is particularly visible at the festive time of year. Rather than succumbing to food anxiety, strive to find a way of eating that is full of plant foods, that you enjoy. And then give yourself free passes every now and again. Just go back to your regular nourishing way of eating on the next day. Guilt-free.

Rather than labelling foods ‘good’ and ‘bad’, view them as ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods. That way, you’ll avoid the guilt trap, and the ensuing ‘well, if I’ve slipped up, I might as well go all-out’. You’re more likely to end up binging on a large quantity of comfort food this way.


Courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Making plans in advance, such as which day/s will be your “free days” and how you will use any confectionery you are given as a gift, will also make it much easier to continue eating nutritiously over the festive season.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Happy feasting!


What’s your thoughts about eating nutritiously over Christmas? Do you give yourself a ‘free pass’, or do you adjust recipes to make them healthier?