Leading a happy, healthy life - and that includes staying an ideal weight, or losing weight if you need to - diet free! - means that the last thing you want to be doing is counting the calories in your Christmas dinner (not much pleasure in that). So to help you, I've put together five great tips that will let you approach the festive period in a healthy, guilt-free way - so there's no need to jump on the 'New Year Fad Diet' bandwagon in 2015!

Dr Sally Norton

Dr Sally Norton

Christmas is one day, not a month! - It's all too tempting to flip over the calendar to December and immediately take it as the green light to start scoffing mince pies (or even earlier, with Christmas confectionery in shops as early as September!). By restricting your indulgent treats to a few days over Christmas they will feel more special and you won't have to feel guilty about that slice of Christmas cake!

Clever snacking - Instead of filling the house with tins of sugar-laden confectionery, why not stock up on nuts to crack, bowls of satsumas and dates. Equally as festive but with much healthier nutrition!

Move more - We know it's tempting to curl up on the sofa and veg out in front of a marathon of festive flicks, but make sure you include one 40 minute active period each day. It could be a big walk with all the family before you sit down for lunch, or an excuse to escape a full house and make the most of the empty local swimming pool for a few laps and a bit of peace and quiet! Not only will you be balancing out your calories in/out to keep your weight in check, you'll also be able to indulge a little more without the guilt!

Gifts that love you back - Why not ask Father Christmas for gifts that are going to nurture your healthy habits? Consider a Fitbit Flex health tracker (they act as a pedometer, sleep monitor and health tracker, then sync to your phone/computer so you can chart your progress).

Or perhaps you could do with a new cycle helmet, swimsuit or yoga mat to kickstart your new fitness plans? Or maybe a spa voucher so you can invest in a little 'me time' in the New Year to start 2016 in a stress-free state.

Banish the bottle! - A surefire way to pile on the pounds - without a mince pie passing your lips - is to over-do it at the drinks cabinet over Christmas. Did you know a large glass of red (250ml) has the same calories as a slice of sponge cake - around 195kcal! A few hours at a drinks party could be the equivalent of demolishing half a cake! Instead, try to stick to only drinking alcohol over a few special days and don't over do it! Alternate your alcohol drinks with water to space your drinks out and opt for clear spirits (vodka, gin etc) with slimline mixers over calorie-laden cream liqueurs, wines or beer

So in a festive nutshell, allowing yourself a little of what you fancy - and keeping your main indulgences for a few days only - will let you enjoy that seasonal fare and still feel good about yourself. And feeling good about yourself means you're less likely to overindulge, and more likely to stick to sensible limits. Which all adds up to a nut-cracking Christmas time!

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