Christmas is for spending quality time with family and friends, but the days leading up to the 25th can be some of the most stressful of the year.

Between putting in overtime to wrap up tasks at work, spending hours in crowds either shopping for presents or groceries for Christmas lunch and coordinating the entire family’s end of year social events, it’s easy to let your own health slip by the wayside.

As a leading dietitian and mother of twin boys, Susie Burrell, knows that Christmas time comes with joys and challenges, but the best gift you can give yourself is good health.

Leading dietician, Susie Burrell shares her best tips for staying healthy over the holidays.

“It’s so important to maintain a strong nutrition habits throughout this frantic period, as it will help to ensure you have the energy to get through each day during December,” Susie says.

“When hunger strikes after a whole day’s worth of shopping, your brain starts thinking of the quickest solution which often means turning to fast foods or foods that have poor nutritional value.

“Choosing nutritious foods when you can during December will also assist in maintaining a better balance between some of the overindulging that goes hand in hand with the silly season.”

Here are Susie’s top tips for balancing health and indulgence during Christmas…

Pre-pack snacks for trips to the shop

“This is something we all do for our children when venturing out to the shops, but it’s not often we do it for ourselves! Pre-packing nutritious snacks like veggie sticks, nuts, fruit or rice cakes will provide you with a boost of energy until your next meal and less likely to give into the temptation of fast foods while out.”

Have convenient options at home for when you need it

“Leftovers or preparing a few meals in advance and storing them in a freezer is a great trick for when you need a meal on the go after shopping all day or if you’ve come home from a Christmas party and need some dinner. But, for the times that you haven’t planned for or when there aren’t any leftovers in the fridge, having a nutritious snap frozen ready meal like Lean Cuisine, is a convenient option that will provide you with the energy you need to get through the rest of the day.”

“Christmas lunch or dinner can feature recipes that have high fat or sugar contents so it’s a good idea to incorporate a few dishes that will help even out the nutritional balance of the day.”

Eat lighter meals around indulgent days

“There’s a lot of enjoyment that comes from the delicious meals that we serve at Christmas time and it’s OK to indulge! My recommendation would be to take a look at the days you might be eating meals that are rich or high in sugar or fat, and plan lighter meals around them.”

Add a few healthier dishes to your Christmas menu

“Christmas lunch or dinner can feature recipes that have high fat or sugar contents so it’s a good idea to incorporate a few dishes that will help even out the nutritional balance of the day. Work out your non-negotiable dishes that you and the family can’t do Christmas without, for me it’s always loads of fresh Tiger prawns and salad, turkey, cherries and a few too many rum balls! And don’t forget to pile your plate with plenty of salad and veggies so you still get plenty of nutrients and dietary fibre, even on celebratory days.”