Heather is my favourite nutritionalist on the planet… I was delighted to see her email last week with some tips for Christmas. So here you go…

How to enjoy Christmas when you’re trying to have a baby….

Christmas can be a really tricky time when you’re trying to conceive.

You may have put in months of healthy eating and following a clean lifestyle to try and support your body on its conception journey.

While you may have found it easy enough to stick to the plan in October, it can be very difficult, not to mention, stressful, to do so in December when everyone else is indulging in Christmas spirit.

However, you too can enjoy a great Christmas and still keep your eye on the prize, more or less, by keeping these points in mind:

1. Enjoy what you love and avoid the rest

Your Mum’s Christmas cake, Butler’s dark chocolate truffles, turkey and stuffing sandwiches with cranberry sauce….. There may be certain foods that we only have at Christmas and look forward to for the entire year.

You can indulge in your fantasy foods, as long as you avoid all the processed, non-nutritive snacks that you simply don’t care for, or particularly want. If roasted nuts, mini mince pies or sausage rolls aren’t on your top 5 list, just don’t bother and save yourself for something you really love.

Being selective means you can really savour the treats you were looking forward to. Have an emergency stash of raw, unpeeled nuts, or fruit in your bag, just in case!

2. To drink or not to drink, that is the question……

You probably already know that alcohol can interfere with your fertility. A study from 2004, which followed a sample of over 7,000 women in Sweden over an 18 year period, concluded that it was ‘important for the female partner in an infertile couple to limit alcohol intake or to not drink at all’. And drinking more than 5 units a week is known to wreak havoc on sperm quality.

However, around the Christmas period, you can chose one or two parties that you’re really looking forward to and enjoy a couple of drinks at them, while staying alcohol-free at other events in between. Try sparkling water with a splash of grapefruit juice between drinks, or drink white wine spritzers with plenty of sparkling water or even alcohol free beer for the night.

3. Be prepared!

Christmas time can be a bit manic, with work, shopping for presents and preparing for the big day. On days you are going out, or are running around, try to fuel yourself properly throughout the day, eating every 3 hours. This can help to reduce the impact of stress on your hormones. Start with a good breakfast and lunch, including some protein and complex carbohydrate. If you do plan to have an alcoholic drink, don’t drink on an empty stomach. Instead, have a meal or at least a snack containing some fat, which slows down the effect of alcohol on the blood stream. Try a wholegrain cheese or peanut butter sandwich, a full fat natural yoghurt with some fruit or some oat cakes with hummus or guacamole. Keep some raw nuts, fruit and oatcakes in your handbag for emergencies!

4. Temptation is just too…….tempting

For most of us, if it’s in the house, it will be eaten. Simple as that. We all tend to buy boxes of biscuits, mince pies and sweets before Christmas, as it is an unwritten law that we must offer visitors a Christmas treat, just in case they haven’t had one yet. However it’s very easy to get into the habit of finishing off the leftovers once your guests have gone.

To avoid this, try buying mini mince pies or share some good quality dark chocolate or roasted spiced nuts instead. Freeze any left over mince pies when guests leave and store other goodies well out of sight.

5. Time to relax……

While it can feel like Christmas is all about the razzle dazzle, ultimately you can also choose to take time to yourself after the big day to relax and de-stress. It takes just a little bit of preparation to give yourself some space. Make double dinners for the freezer in the days coming up to Christmas and buy in some good quality soups, along with oatcakes, hummus, almond butter, fruits, smoked salmon, herbal teas and eggs. Having food prepared and ready to go can let you have a staycation over the Christmas holiday, enjoying long walks, roaring fires and afternoon naps. Book a couple of massages or take a bath. Unwinding from the stress of Christmas will work wonders for your fertility.

You don’t have to opt out of Christmas when you’re trying to have a baby. With the tips above, you can enjoy the festive season, while also protecting all the good work you’ve done already.

For more tips and healthy recipes, log onto www.glenvillenutrition.ie