How to be mindful with nutrition at Christmas but still enjoy your food

Kate Percy is one of our experts in the Run Mummy Run Community Run Club in association with ASICS.  These blogs are exclusive to RMR CRC members for a few months before being made public, so if you do want to get expert advice on your running, as well as a training sessions, expert Q&As, access to exclusive kit and much more, join the club today! In this post, Kate talks about how we can be mindful of our nutrition over Christmas while still enjoying ourselves, and going into the new year full of energy. The advice can be applied to other holiday periods too. 

Sticking to a healthy diet over the festive season can be a struggle for even the most dedicated of runners! Surrounded by heaps of tantalising food and drink, it’s super easy to surrender to the siren sounds of temptation.

Here’s a fun fact: the average Christmas dinner contains over 1400 calories – 70% of the total calorie intake for a woman and over 50% of the daily intake for a man.

I’m not too fussed about that to be honest; life’s too short not to have a blow-out every now and then and this year more than ever, I feel we need to really cherish those festive family moments.

If we want to start January with a spring in our step though, it’s worth being a little mindful about what you’re eating over Christmas. Highly processed foods, loaded with ‘empty calories’ and stuffed with saturated fat, salt or sugar, threaten not only pile on excess pounds, but can also make us feel rotten, heavy and lethargic.  Nutrient-dense calories from wholegrains, lentils and pulses, fish and lean meat, fruit and vegetables will sustain energy levels and enhance your running much better.  There’s some lovely ‘wholesome’ running recipe ideas for the festive period on you could try like this delicious warm squash salad.

With a little knowledge and a few sneaky survival tactics it’s quite easy to make informed choices about your choice of festive goodies.

Some sneaky festive swaps

Sausage rolls, vol-au-vents and other pastry-based party canapés tend to be very high in saturated fat and are not particularly gut-friendly. One tiny mini sausage roll contains around 50 kcal and 2 grams of saturated fat; one mini pork pie is getting on for 200 calories and 10g saturated fat. The guideline daily amount (GDA) of saturated for an adult is 20g #JustSaying! Not great for the waistline, the heart or your running.

Sneaky swaps

Smoked salmon nibbles, chicken satays, salad-based canapés or nutritious hummus with carrot and celery sticks.

Mince pies, especially shop-bought ones, contain on average about 250 kcal each and about 4g saturated fat.

Sneaky swaps

Make your own mince pies and you’ll find it much easier to avoid the supermarket version. Homemade mince pies are smaller, tastier and have a lower pastry to mincemeat ratio. What’s more, you can use a better quality, more nutritious mincemeat. Go even lighter by using wafer-thin filo pastry or by rolling out shortcrust pastry as thin as you can and using a star cutter for the lid to reduce the pastry content.

Mulled wine is loaded with sugar; just one small glass can be at least 250 calories, making a large glass 500 calories. Warm yourself up with a convivial glass of this delicious nectar by all means, but remember that several glasses (or mugs) of the stuff will add up.

Sneaky swaps

A glass of fizzy water or tonic water with ice and lemon; everyone will think you’re drinking a vodka or gin and tonic! White wine spritzer is much lower in calories than mulled wine, or if the purse allows, Champagne or Prosecco!

Yule log, a traditional French cake stuffed with eggs, sugar, butter and double cream contains about 250 calories per slice and at least 9g saturated fat. This creamy, chocolate-laden affair is certainly not for the faint-hearted… but delicious!

Sneaky swaps

Dive for alternative Christmas staples: satsumas, nuts and dates (a handful of dates is around 60 kcal and contains important vitamins and minerals and dietary fibre). Christmas pudding or Christmas cake are packed with nutritious goodies such as dried fruit and nuts, providing better sustained energy for training. Avoid overdosing on the accompanying cream, brandy butter or icing, however!

Brandy butter. Pure butter mixed with sugar and brandy!

Sneaky swaps

Sorry, this is too delicious in my opinion to say no to! So go for a half teaspoon inside your mince pie or over your Christmas pud…


Seasonal survival tips

  • Morning runs (get the family out with you if you can, unless you want some me-time that is!)
  • Enjoying a good breakfast including plenty of slow-release carbohydrates for sustained energy and to help prevent hunger pangs will help you resist the day’s temptations; try porridge, unsweetened muesli or poached eggs on wholemeal toast and a glass of fruit juice.
  • Recognise when enough is enough, listen to your body and don’t eat or drink more just because everyone else is.
  • Eat slowly to help digestion – this works a treat!
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Alternate each glass of alcohol with a glass of water; this will prevent dehydration and stop you drinking and too much.
  • Christmas lunch per se is pretty nutritious – turkey, a great source of low fat protein, healthy chestnuts, and heaps of vegetables, not only good carbohydrates but also rich in antioxidants. Go easy on the trimmings such as bread sauce and pigs in blankets and enjoy!

Happy Christmas everyone. May it be packed with #Enerjoy!

About Kate

Hello everyone! It’s a great privilege to have been invited by Run Mummy Run to inspire you with all things food and nutrition! In everything I do, whether it’s my food products, cookbooks or educational resources, my mission is to help you discover what I call #enerjoy through what you eat; that’s great taste, good energy, vitality and happiness. I hope you enjoy my tips and recipes over the coming year. And I hope they bring you #enerjoy!

Follow Kate on Facebook and Instagram @katepercys or check out Kate’s shop for cookbooks, healthy snack products (Kate Percy’s Go Bites), baking kits  (gluten free, vegan pizza base, savoury pancake and dough balls kits).





*Main image by Sabrina Ripke from Pixabay

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