Now is the time to start your Christmas prepar-ations in earnest.

Tell everyone their Christmas cards must have been lost in the post and don't even think about hunting for presents until the day before the event.

It is pointless getting worried in advance, much better to relax and commence preparations of a different kind.

Your body and mind require some careful main-tenance in order to be happy and healthy this Christmas.

If worried about fitting into last year's glitzy outfit, reduce your wheat intake.

Many people find they retain water when eating wheat and lose it once they replace bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, biscuits and mince pies with healthier options.

Sweeten your food with fruit rather than refined sugar which, once eaten, undergoes a strange meta-morphosis into a wobbly substance located around hips and thighs.

Sugar also undermines immunity, making you more prone to flu bugs at a time you want to look and feel your best.

So what do we eat over the holidays?

No need to panic, pre-made goodies such as wheat and sugar-free desserts, Christmas puddings and cakes can be bought from Village Bakery products.

These are available in independent health food stores around the country or go to Be philosophical and accept the inevitable.

Yes, you may well put on a few pounds over Christmas but you can minimise the damage by eating the obligatory five pieces of fruit and vegetables per day - then there is less room for bad habits.

Go to the gym regularly or walk a few extra miles three times a week to kickstart your metabolism.

This way, you'll still be burning off the calories after Boxing Day.

Central heating is cosy but to prevent dehydration, keep your internal water supply topped up.

External water therapy is useful, too, so find a jacuzzi and jump in.

Christmas celebrations can be a nightmare for people with food intoler-ances.

Subscribe to The Inside Story, a specialist magazine for all those on restricted diets. Tel 020-7722-2866 for details or go to If you are prone to over-eating at Christmas parties, rather than taking an antacid, try digestive enzymes in capsule form.

These quickly help to break down food molecules so they can be absorbed more efficiently.

If you are prone to drinking too much, do your liver a big favour and start taking some herbal liver support right now.

Ask Laura, Sue or John at GNC Health & Diet Centre (Churchill Square, Brighton) for info on liver remedies, such as milk thistle or artichoke tablets, and digestive enzymes.

Vegetarians and vegans can contact the Vegetarian Society for meat-free Christmas ideas on 0161-928-0793 or log on to for yummy recipes.

Finally, don't believe any practical jokers who tell you that if no one sees you eat it, it has no calories.

Or that if you eat your Christmas pudding stand-ing up, it doesn't count.

Bah, humbug.