Derval O’Rourke offers her top 10 tips for a healthier Christmas, along with a couple of her low-calorie lunchtime recipes to fill you up with nutritious food over the festive season.


Derval O'Rourke's tips on how to be healthy at Christmas

Derval O’Rourke offers her top 10 tips for a healthier Christmas, along with a couple of her low-calorie lunchtime recipes to fill you up with nutritious food over the festive season.

Derval O'Rourke's tips on how to be healthy at Christmas

Derval O’Rourke offers her top 10 tips for a healthier Christmas, along with a couple of her low-calorie lunchtime recipes to fill you up with nutritious food over the festive season.

1. Portion sizes

Christmas portions tend to be way bigger than portions that you eat at other times of the year. Experts estimate that we are up about 3,500 calories when eating at Christmas. Try to keep your portions as near to normal as possible. Those extra calories will really be felt in January.

2. The munchies

Christmas is a prime time to randomly munch on food that you wouldn’t normally eat. Be mindful of picking at foods aimlessly, if you are having people over be conscious of the snacks you are providing. Challenge yourself to make tasty healty snacks as opposed to processed, shop bought foods.

3. Fruit it up

Most of us forget about fruit during Christmas. With so much going on between parties, family visits and getting ready for Santa you need to be at your best. You need to get as much vitamins and minerals as possible to stay at your best, eating your fruit will help with this.

4. Walk it off

After your big Christmas dinner it will do you the world of good to get yourself out for a stroll. Christmas day can be a little overwhelming and getting some fresh air will do your body and mind the power of good.

5. Vegetables are your friend

Christmas is a great time for vegetable dishes and be sure to embrace this. I personally try to fill around 50% of my plate with vegetables. Make vegetables the star of the show. There are lots of great vegetable dishes to take inspiration from, opposite.

6. Beware the booze

Christmas is the silly season when it comes to booze. Make sure you are drinking water with each of your alcoholic drinks. Try to make sure the glass of water is bigger than the alcoholic drink. To be social you don’t need to be on the booze.

7. You’re not obliged

Just because someone offers you something you are not obliged to eat or drink it. Saying no is important at all times but particularly at Christmas. People won’t take offence if you politely decline a mince pie or gingerbread man.

8. At least one healthy meal a day

Over the festive period when my schedule is thrown completely out the window I target at least one healthy meal each day. This tends to be a good breakfast, I stick with a bowl of porridge and get the day off to a good start.

9. Dessert lightly

After a big Christmas dinner, which is probably straight after a starter, the last thing your body needs is a heavy dessert. I love berries and a small serving of ice cream.

10. Balance is key

Finally, when it comes to Christmas eating, balance is key. Enjoy the time to spend longer at the table with your loved ones. Be mindful of how much you are eating and keep a good balance.


This week I’m mentioning my own social media as the fitspiration, you will have to forgive the shameless self-promotion! I interact with so many people online and find it a great way to chat about all things healthy lifestyle.

If you are on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook be sure to give me a follow and say hi. I’ll be posting regularly over the festive period.

Derval’s gift ideas

December is upon and it’s time to get thinking about Christmas gifts.

I love buying people presents and always try to put in the effort to find something a little special.

I’ve decided to put a big emphasis on buying from Irish companies. I think it’s really important to support our independent businesses and more often than not I tend to find really special gifts for people from gorgeous Irish companies.

I asked my followers on social media about companies that they like and also I asked companies to let me know about their products. It was tough to narrow it down, but here are my picks:

1) Three Little Birds

This stationery and print business is run by husband and wife team, Neil and Deborah Maguire, from their home studio in Cavan.

The company launched in 2017 with a vision to rekindle the lost art of handwritten notes and letters. Their Galileo stars artwork print is amongst their most popular products.

This is a potential present for a family member’s home. Prices start from €20.

2) The Irish Biltong Company

This company was created in 2015 by Noreen Doyle and her husband John, both of whom come from farming backgrounds and understand the importance of quality produce.

Irish Biltong is high in protein, low in fat and great for snacking on the go. It’s the perfect stocking filler for the fitness enthusiasts in your life and they are doing a Christmas hamper on their website. Prices start from €10.


This company was founded by husband and wife team, David and Ellen Caren, in 2013 and is based in Cork.

Run Angel is a personal safety wearable that emits a very loud alarm to attract attention in an emergency, a great product for runners or cyclists.

The companion app provides peace of mind for family and friends who will be alerted by text and email, showing the date, time and location of the wearer when your run angel is activated.

Prices start from €90.

4) The Cool Food School

Deirdre Doyle, a certified health and nutrition coach, mum of three and businesswoman, established the Cool Food School with the aim of teaching children of all ages about eating, cooking and loving healthy food. They run a range of courses and also sell a selection of food preparation products for kids.

I particularly like the cookie cutter and safety food peeler set, a super affordable gift for any budding chefs in your home. I’m always encouraging my three-year-old to get involved in food preparation and this is a great way to do it.

Prices are around €18.

5) Earthmother

This is a family business run by Siobhan and Chris Elsom whose mission is to provide their customers with the safest and best natural eco-friendly products available. I love the fact that everything is personally tried and tested. When I was browsing their website I spotted lots of products that I use myself.

The website is super easy to use and makes shopping online for eco-friendly gifts a real pleasure. You will find a range of items on this site that could end up in your online Christmas shopping basket. Well worth a browse!

6) www.whiteandgreen

This organic, luxury bedding and homeware brand was established by Sari and her two daughters Rebecca and Danielle. They stock the most beautiful bed linen and baby clothing.

They are a great option for Christmas gifting; a browse on their site will make you want to start adding lots of items to your basket, maybe even a few pieces for yourself. Prices start from €32.

7) Kerrigan's

Established in 1973 by Brendan Kerrigan, and later run with the help of his sons Shane and Barry, Kerrigan’s has grown from a single butcher shop to an established business servicing health-conscious customers throughout the country.

They launched their ‘Food For Fitness’ range in 2013 with the mission of encouraging people to pursue a healthy lifestyle, based on convenience and high quality, affordable food.

They have really embraced online orders, they offer next day delivery to the whole country.

A gift voucher would be a great option for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle this January.

8) I-SPY

I spy is Ireland’s first yoga sports clothing company and was established in 2014 by mum and daughter duo Paulette and Louise Egan.

I love their ethos of helping all women to feel confident in themselves and in the clothes that they’re wearing. The leggings are gorgeous but most importantly they are not see through if you bend over!

This is a point often overlooked by really big sporting brands and there are few things worse than seeing someone in see-through leggings working out.

The prices start from €50.

9) Baltimore Clothing

This lifestyle clothing brand was founded by cousins Geraldine and Rachel O’Flynn and represents the beautiful village of Baltimore in West Cork.

My daughter Dafne has one of these hoodies and she loves it. A real bonus is every purchase supports the RNLI lifeboat in Baltimore, it’s a really worthy cause and they do amazing work keeping our waters safe.

The range starts at €20.

10) Kayla's Kitchen

This company was established by husband and wife team, Emmet and Paula Hughes, it’s inspired by their daughter Kayla who suffers from a rare illness called Rett Syndrome.

They deliver tasty home-cooked meals straight to your door and source all their produce locally from trusted suppliers.

Gift vouchers start at €50 and 10% of the profits go to the Missy Kayla Trust which was set up to support Kayla.

11) Ulluv

This company was established by Siobhan Stack in 2017 with the aim of providing “hospital bag” solutions - both physical bags and their contents – to busy expectant mums.

However, it has now evolved to cater for the needs of busy mums and busy people in general by providing stylish, practical and high quality bags.

I love the fact that each product is handpicked and tested by Siobhan and the packaging makes it feel really special.

Derval's Recipes

1. Christmas Couscous

This festive couscous is simple to make but tastes delicious. It can be prepared ahead of time and any leftovers can be transformed into a lovely supper if served with some leftover roast turkey or artisan cheese, a green salad and crusty bread.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 6, as a side

Nutritional Information:

Protein – 3g

Fats – 3g

Carbohydrates – 23g

Calories – 133

    280g couscous

    500ml vegetable stock

    1 tbsp olive oil

    ½ tsp paprika

    ¼ tsp cinnamon

    ½ tsp cumin

    A handful of dried cranberries

    Handful of raisins

    A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

Place couscous in a large bowl. Place the stock, garlic, olive oil, salt and spices in a large measuring jug and whisk until combined. Pour the stock over the couscous and stir to combine.

Scatter the raisins and cranberries over the couscous. Place a tea towel over the bowl and leave the couscous to cook for 10 minutes or according to the instructions on the package.

Fluff the couscous with a fork, divide between your serving plates and scatter over the mint leaves.

Celeriac and Hazelnut Soup

Celeriac is one of the unsung heroes of the vegetable world. It is super versatile, yet often overlooked at the supermarket.

It adds fantastic flavour to this soup and pairs beautifully with the hazelnuts and thyme. I love this served with some real butter and seedy brown bread.

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 30 min

Serves: 4-6

Nutritional Information:

Protein – 7g

Fats – 21g

Carbohydrates – 16g

Calories – 274

    A knob of butter

    1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

    100g chopped hazelnuts

    Tbs thyme dried

    1 celeriac peeled and roughly chopped

    1 large potato, peeled and roughly chopped

    600ml stock

    6 stalks fresh thyme

    1 small carton cream

    Optional: Cream and hazelnuts to garnish

Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, thyme and hazelnuts and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the celeriac and potato, then cover and cook over a gentle heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the stock and thyme leaves, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.

Cook for 8-10 minutes until the celeriac and potato are very well cooked through.

Add the cream, then blitz to a smooth and velvety puree.

Return to the pan and heat through until piping hot, then serve drizzled with a little cream and roughly chopped hazelnuts.

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