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    Here’s how to have a healthier Christmas

    Here’s how to have a healthier Christmas

    Posted on November 19th, 2023

    Christmas is traditionally a time for indulgence, but without wanting to sound like too much of a Scrooge – do we need to rein things in a little? The boozy breakfast, snacking on selection boxes, tucking into a turkey dinner with all the trimmings… the result is that the average man more than doubles his recommended 2,500 calorie guideline on Christmas Day, and women triple theirs! And that’s before we even take into effects the extra alcohol and lack of exercise can have on the body. With that in mind, the health experts at YourGP shine the spotlight on some eye-opening statistics and offer simple advice on how you could enjoy a healthier Christmas.

    The calorific Christmas dinner

    The average Brit consumes over 5,200 calories and a hefty 190g of fat during their Christmas dinner. This over-indulgence means you would have to run the equivalent of two marathons, swim for 13 hours straight, or cycle over 109 miles (175 km) to work off your festive feast!

    And it’s not just the turkey dinner – it’s the constant snacking, second-helpings and general attitude of “Oh go on then, it’s Christmas!” that seems to justify continual over-indulgence from 1st December right through to New Years. No wonder the average person takes a whole four months to return to their pre-Christmas weight (…just in time for Easter!) (Ref 1).

    If you’re keen to aim for a healthier Christmas, there are some fairly common sense choices you can make. First up, don’t worry about sacrificing your traditional turkey dinner. Three to four slices of roasted turkey (without the skin) equates to around 300 calories. That’s fewer calories per slice than chicken, making it a healthy choice as it is low in fat and high in protein. It’s all the things that come with the turkey that can be problematic – high salt stuffing, roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, carrots dripping in butter, pigs in blankets… So here are four practical things you can do:

    1. Reduce your portion size. You don’t need to pile up your plate and go back for seconds to enjoy a good Christmas dinner.
    2. Be more mindful of what you eat during the festive period. Ask yourself – “Am I eating this because I’m actually hungry, or just because it’s there?”
    3. Switch up the chips, dips and selection boxes for healthy snacks such as dried fruit and unsalted nuts.
    4. Don’t milk the “It’s Christmas” excuse for too long! Enjoy a day of indulgence, but make sure you get back to healthy eating as soon as possible.

    Toasting the season

    Bucks Fizz with breakfast, wine with lunch, port in the afternoon, Champagne before dinner, a brandy with supper… It can seem like the social norms relating to drinking don’t apply on Christmas Day. In fact, for the whole of party season we’re encouraged to let our hair down and toast the season. But according to Dr Sally Marlow from the Addictions Department at King’s College London, this could be the trigger for longer-term problem drinking. The reason is two-fold; “The first is the increase in parties, but for some the festive period can be a miserable time, and they end up “self-medicating” with alcohol” (Ref 2).

    The solution for a healthier Christmas is simple:

    1. Don’t feel pressured to drink, just because others are. It is perfectly possible to celebrate the season sober.
    2. Opt for alcohol-free beer and wine (there are lots now widely available at bars and supermarkets).
    3. If you do choose to drink, be sure to alternate with soft drinks and water throughout the night.

    Neglecting your exercise routine

    When it’s cold outside, it can be all too tempting to ditch your usual exercise routine and instead cosy up inside in front of the telly. And whilst rest days are important for aiding muscle recovery, too many of them can start to affect your motivation, making it harder to get back into the swing of things. Here are a few suggestions to keep active:

    1. Get the whole family involved – head out on an invigorating winter walk on Christmas Day, go sledging or organise a snowball fight to get the blood pumping.
    2. Make it fun by accompanying your little ones trying out their new bikes, roller-skates, scooters or skateboards.
    3. Forget the excuse “I’ll start in the New Year”. Use your time off work wisely to invest in your health by getting active.

    Want some more advice?

    If you’d like to speak to a GP about the best ways you can make healthy lifestyle changes this Christmas and beyond, contact YourGP. You can choose a date and time that suits you via our simple online booking system, or you can email reception@your.gp. Alternatively, you call us on 0131 225 5656 or arrange a call back via our website.

     

    References

    • Ref 1: Business Insider, This is how many calories are in your Christmas dinner — and how long it would take you to work it off, 2017
    • Ref 2: The Independent, Christmas binge drinking increases risk of alcohol dependence, expert warns, 2016

    Halfway round the world from home (Australia) and really needed a GP. YourGP provided excellent prompt service. Made a call at 10.15am and was seen by a very caring doctor at 11.30am. Great ambassadors for Edinburgh.

    Trish M

    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 | his.ihcregulation@nhs.scot

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