Yikes! It’s the Christmas season.

There are many reasons to overindulge at Christmas:

  • There’s food everywhere….all the time
  • There’s drink everywhere and, well, what goes better with alcohol than FOOD?!
  • You have to hang around with your family, who know how to push all those emotional buttons
  • You have to spend way too much time with your in-laws
  • Everyone feels the need to enquire as to why you’re not married/when you’re having another child/why you don’t want to get a ‘proper’ job
  • Christmas brings up some painful memories of loss



And pass the pretzels and a glass of wine.


It can all just be too much.

Too much of everything – people, drink, food, emotional triggers….you end up with a massive overindulgence hangover which you try to recover from for most of January. (And maybe February and March too!)

So if you don’t mind me interrupting the partying and shopping for a few minutes, I’d like to make some suggestions for ways you can comfort yourself over the crazy and often stressful Christmas period. Comfort that doesn’t involve food, but does bring a whole pile of calm, peace and sanity.

Because it’s okay to need comfort. It’s just that food comfort only lasts about 2 minutes, as it never addresses the real problem.




If there is one thing that will drive the most health-conscious of us to the biscuit tin, it’s exhaustion. Even missing out on a few hours one night will result in you making some interesting food choices the next day to compensate! So please get all the sleep you can, when you can.

If you struggle with sleep at night (young children/menopause/anxiety), your best option is to make naps and ‘me time’ your best friends. Take your rest whenever you have an unplanned 30 minutes. It works much better than sugar!



Guilt-Free ‘Me Time’


“If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.” 

~ Barbara De Angelis

We women have been taught that self-sacrifice equals love. And so we often forget about ourselves in the midst of making it the “best Christmas” ever for everyone else.

But you just can’t pour from an empty cup.

If you are feeling low on energy, resentful of having no time for yourself or just drained and irritable, these are sure signs that it’s time to book yourself in for some much-needed ‘me time’. This is not an indulgence, but a necessity for you and everyone around you!

Book your partner or whatever babysitter you can get your hands on and take some time for yourself.


Get a massage/reiki


I probably don’t need to sell you on this one! Massage and reiki will not only give you that much-needed time out for yourself, but will also rebalance your energy, reviving you and helping you relax and sleep better. And then there’s not really so much need to take refuge in chocolate.


Create your own retreat


So winter is hibernation time. It’s nature’s way of asking us to go inside in every sense of the word – retreating to the warmth and cosiness of indoors and retreating inside ourselves to rest, restore and nourish ourselves.

Don’t fight your urge for quiet and downtime right now – even if it is in the midst of the party season! Why not carve out a whole day (or just an afternoon!) for yourself. And spend it however you wish, as long as it’s doing something you consider a luxury. For busy mums, time out to just read a book or take a bath might be the best present ever.

You’ll feel nourished…and not by food this time!



Listen to a podcast


I’m in love with podcasts! The best ones are like eavesdropping on the most interesting conversations – both an education and an escape. If boredom is leading you to snack…well, try feeding your mind instead 🙂

Creativity: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons should be required listening for all women!

Living a Good Life: Good Life Project Radio; The Rich Roll Podcast; On Being

Irish:  An Irishman Abroad; The Irish Times’ Women’s Podcast


Drink warming drinks


Okay, so a cup of tea may not be the same as a bar of chocolate, but you’d be surprised at how satisfying a cup of something warm can be on a cold evening on the couch. My favourite teas come from Pukka, Numi and Wall & Keogh


Dance to cheesy music


Sometimes you just need to shake up your mood – by shaking up your body! If everything is getting to you, there really is nothing like music to change how you feel – it’s like a miracle sometimes. And if you throw in some silly moves around the coffee table, even better. In 3 minutes, you will have a new perspective on yourself and the day. You know it will make you feel better! 🙂


Look After Your Appearance


Okay, so the pressure on women to look young and attractive is everywhere and it can be very difficult to deal with. With busy careers and home lives, the last thing you want to have to worry about is dolling yourself up.

BUT. The problem is that putting thought into our appearance can lead to two things:

We feel better about ourselves. We feel beautiful and sensual and attractive. And when we feel that way about ourselves this is what others believe to be true about us too. (Which makes us feel even better!)

We appreciate our bodies more and see their beauty. And a woman who is connected to her body doesn’t feel such a strong need to fill it full of junk food.

So don’t underestimate the importance of putting on your gladdest rags as often as you can! It’s not sbout being skinny. It’s certainly not about being young. It’s about celebrating the body you have. Little things count: use your favourite scented body oil on just an average day; wear your best lingerie instead of the tired old cotton stuff; wear red lipstick just for the hell of it.

Feeling bad about our appearance often leads us to the biscuit tin (“there’s no point – I look awful, anyway…”). Why not have fun with how you look instead? And see how it makes you feel…


Have Sex


There’s a connection between food and sex for women. Both are about physical pleasure. And sometimes when we are starved of physical pleasure in one area (physical touch) we make up for it unconsciously in another (food). So look after your needs for physical touch and intimacy and see if anything shifts. It’s worth testing this theory, if nothing else! 🙂


Try Something New


Another cure for eating due to boredom. You are sure to have some free time over the holidays. Why not use it to try something new? Be a tourist in your city and try out new exhibitions and events. Take a workshop or class you would never normally attend (but had secretly thought about!) Say ‘yes’ to an invitation you were going to decline due to laziness – who knows who you might meet or what you will learn.

Fill yourself up with novelty, rather than food. 

Get Creative


As adults, we are generally starved of creative outlets. We may have been told as children that we’re no good at creative stuff – and believed it. Or we were great at art/crafts/music/dance….but it didn’t become our career and so it was abandoned.

Without a means to express ourselves, our lives become a drier, more joyless experience. We keep searching for something…but we don’t know what. And so we eat instead.

What did you love to do as a kid and how could you do it now? (If this resonates with you, I recommend checking out “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert)


Get Out in Nature


We spend way too much time indoors over the winter…sitting on the couch, watching TV, snacking and generally getting more and more lethargic.

Use the Christmas period to get outside. Go for long walks, climb a mountain, go for a run or a cycle – whatever makes you happy. And if you can bring a friend along for a chat along the way, even better!

Exercise is great – it makes us feel good about our bodies and less inclined to mistreat them with junk food. But exercise outside is particularly good, as there is nothing like connecting with nature to gain a new perspective on the world, helping you feel calmer and happier.


So how are you looking forward to Christmas? Do you dread it a little or love it? Do you usually put on weight and use January to get back in shape? Will you be using any of these tips to comfort yourself without food?


Niamh x


P.S. You might also like How to Understand & Stop Your Emotional Eating and A Surprising Tip to Staying Your Ideal Weight