Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award: Lea is honoured to receive a Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award in recognition of her work as an author and nutritionist in the realm of food communications. Read more »



Men's health

Christmas: keep up that cheer!

The Christmas period is such a busy time of the year, which often doesn’t seem to stop until the New Year is underway; school is winding down, work seems to be winding up and all those extra commitments seem to be popping up everywhere.

Through identifying the associated pitfalls of the ‘jolly season’, you can develop an action plan to help minimise the disruption to your present lifestyle and take the time to enjoy the holiday season ahead. Featured below are some common pitfalls often encountered and some ideas to help get those action plans started!

Pitfall # 1: Lack of energy and irregular meal patterns

To maintain your energy levels form a basic meal pattern and stick to it. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast, followed by a sustainable lunch, and a simple evening meal such as; Pita Bread filled with chilli beans and salad, grilled steak, pasta and sauce, quiche with a tossed salad, home-made hamburgers – simple and the kids love them!

Pitfall # 2: Extra socialising = more alcohol, drinks, nibbles and missed meals

When going out for a meal or pre-dinner drinks ensure that you have a substantial afternoon snack, such as Edam cheese and salad, a sandwich, savoury muffin, trim milkshake, yoghurt and fruit. This helps to reduce the chance of nibbling high fat foods or overeating.

Pitfall # 3: Increased alcohol consumption

Did you know that more than 14 drinks per week for women and 21 drinks for men constitutes a heavy drinker? If you fall into that category, attempt to reduce your intake through spacing out your drinking, ask for more iced water, tomato juice, lime, ice and soda. Alcoholic beverages can also contain extra sugar (beer, cider, juices, sparkling wine, or soft drink mixes); dry wine or spirits with water or soda are better alternatives.

Pitfall # 4: Increased fat consumption

Work to control your fat consumption through keeping meat to enjoy at your evening meal only, choosing lower fat protein alternatives for breakfast and lunch. Make an effort to choose smaller meat quantities and avoid having second helpings, especially at BBQ’s! Fill up on salads, vegetables or bread instead. BBQ vegetables make a good alternative, reducing costs and increasing colour, variety and flavour.

Pitfall # 5: No or little exercise

Set some personal time aside to exercise. Not only do you feel better for it physically, but it also gives you some space mentally and emotionally. If having guests to stay, encourage them to join you on a walk

Pitfall # 6: Dehydration

Keep hydrated and fight the associated fatigue. Take a bottle of water to work, in the car or sit on your desk to remind you to drink. Aim for approx 1.5-2L per day.

Pitfall # 7: Work Pressure; eating prior to bed or missing meals

When you have some extra time to make meals, freeze some extra meals for those days you are pushed for time. Easy options are: quiche, pizza, casserole and pasta sauce. Attempt to control extra eating; due to loneliness, boredom, grief or frustration- isolate associated causes and devise a counteractive measure.

Take care and have a safe, enjoyable and happy holiday season.
Love and best wishes from Lea Stening Health.

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

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