If you’re wanting to enjoy a guilt-free Christmas, aka indulging without the holiday weight gain, then this blog post is for you!
Did you know that the average Christmas Day comes in at a whopping 6,000 calories?! That’s TRIPLE what the average person needs. And it’s easily done – a mince pie comes it at around 250 calories (which would take a 3 mile walk to burn off!!) and an average 100g serving of Christmas pudding contains a whopping 350 calories and 12g of fat!
I usually spend my time running up to Christmas advising people how to NOT be a statistic – i.e. how not to be the ‘average’ person who gains up to half a stone (7 lbs) over the four week festive period, and so in this blog post I’ve put together all of my top tips on how you can maintain your weight throughout the parties, tempting work nibbles and the big day itself.
So, to hear my ‘Fight the Flab Festive Tips’ (did I go too far?!) carry on reading!
CHRISTMAS PARTY TIPS & BUFFETS..
- Have a small HEALTHY SNACK before you go such as a piece of fruit with peanut butter, a handful of nuts or vegetable sticks and hummus. Having a mixture of both fibre and protein will help to fill you up so that you’re head does the party snack choosing and not your stomach!
- Stay HYDRATED. Drink water before, during and after a party. Drinking before the party will ensure that your thirst isn’t confused with hunger, drinking during will help to keep you hydrated, full and will keep your hands occupied, and drinking afterwards will help to avoid that nasty ‘dehydration hangover’ in the morning!
- Regarding ALCOHOL, plan how much you want to drink (if at all) before you start and alternate alcoholic drinks with water/no added sugar soft drinks. Be mindful that alcohol may still be in your system the next day if you’re planning on driving anywhere!
- Eat what you LOVE, not just what you like. Choose your party snacks wisely, avoid things that bloat you or the foods that you know once you start eating you just can’t stop eating! Go for the foods that you really love, limiting yourself to 2 or 3 ‘indulgent foods’ on your plate and fill the rest of your party plate with lean meats e.g. turkey or a nut loaf and salad.
- Take your TIME. Peruse the party buffet before you fill your plate. There will always be a few healthy foods available to fill up on, it’s just a matter of spying them first, so take your time and don’t feel pressured to dive straight into the eating.
- Keep your HANDS occupied! Keep a drink in one hand and your bag/phone etc in the other, this will make grabbing those snacks harder and consequently you will be more aware every time you go to pop something into your mouth!
- Socialise at least 6 feet AWAY from the party food. Focus on the real reason why you’re at the party – the people, the occasion etc.. the food is just a bonus so don’t let it become the focal point.
- Take HEALTHY FOODS or serve healthy foods if you’re hosting. Be the one who offers vegetable sticks and low calorie dips or festive fruit kebabs at the party (as well as the standard snacks) – you won’t be the only one trying not to over-indulge that night, trust me!
FESTIVE WORK TIPS..
- Practice saying NO. Saying ‘no’ isn’t easy, but with practice it will come second nature. Phrases such as ‘No thank you, I’m stuffed’ or ‘No thank you I’ve got a loose filling (!)’ won’t hurt the person offering food and it will leave you in control of the snacks that you really want to eat, rather than mindlessly munching everything that is offered to you!
- PLAN your lunches & take HEALTHY SNACKS to help reduce the temptations of unhealthy treats. If you continue with your regular meals and in-between healthy snacks then this will help to stabilise your hunger levels and blood sugar levels, minimising sugar cravings!
- Ban chocolate (& alcohol!) from the SECRET SANTA shopping list. Suggest that people really have to think about their gifts this year, rather than relying on the ‘fail-safe’ chocolate box! If you do get given chocolate, and you don’t want it, give it to a charity or a care-home.
- Keep the treats at least SIX FEET away. If the snacks are out of arms reach, and even better around the corner and out of site, then this will help to reduce your ‘see-food’ cravings as well as mindless munchies!
- Keep your WRAPPERS. If you do decide to munch on a few chocolate keep the evidence. Having the empty wrappers on your desk will remind you how many you’ve eaten and may keep you from going back for even more!
CHRISTMAS DAY TIPS..
- First up, remember OUT OF SIGHT is out of mind – Keep the chocolates, sweets and mince pies out of sight until it’s the big day or a designated snack time. Otherwise you may be tempted to eat them ‘just because they are there’.. keep them stored away so that you don’t fall into the ‘see food diet’.
- Eat BREAKFAST. Breakfast will help to kick start your day by controlling your hunger and blood sugar levels – leaving you more in control when tempting foods are on offer mid-morning! Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to your porridge/pancakes for a festive touch without the calories or add satsuma segments and a dollop of yoghurt. From a psychological point of view, starting your day with a nutritious yet delicious meal should also leave you feeling more positive too!
- Don’t DEEP FRY your potatoes and veggies! Parboil them first, then brush or spray them lightly with olive/vegetable oil (rather than pouring oil on), before roasting. Just 1 tablespoon of oil contains 135 Kcal (as much as 2 chocolate biscuits!!). Keeping the vegetables and potato pieces chunky, rather than skinny, will also help to reduce the amount of oil that they absorb.
- Skip the SKIN on meat. Just 15g (1 tbsp) of turkey skin contains 70 calories and 6g of fat. Stick to the lean white parts of the Turkey or chicken for a protein hit that will leave you feeling fuller for longer!
- Feast on VEGETABLES. Vegetables are your friend.. they are high in fibre and low in calories. From Brussels sprouts to parsnips and carrots – each are bursting with vitamins and minerals and they will help to fill you up too! Fill 1/3-1/2 of your plate with veggies BEFORE choosing the rest of your dinner.
- Take your TIME. Your brain takes 20 minutes to realise that you’re eating, which means that demolishing your Christmas Dinner in anything less than this will leave you craving unnecessary extras. Practice chewing your food well and don’t be afraid of putting your knife and fork down between mouthfuls.. no-one will steal your food, honest!
- Ask for a SMALL portion of Christmas pudding or dessert, or even better go for a fresh fruit salad with yoghurt. If you don’t LOVE the pudding on offer then don’t have it. Eating for the sake of eating could leave you feeling over full. Take a break between courses and decide how much you want of your dessert after you’ve had time to think about it!
- Keep HEALTHY FESTIVE TREATS to hand. Snacks such as satsumas and chestnuts won’t break the calorie bank balance and neither will a small handful of dried fruit or unsalted nuts. These foods will not only satisfy your ‘nibble craving’ but they will help to nourish your body too!
- WALK it off! A walk before or after dinner will not only mean less time inside eating/thinking about food but it will help to burn off any excess calories. Exercise of any kind helps to boost feel good hormones (endorphins) and will help you to rationalise any Christmas arguments!!
GENERAL HOLIDAY TIPS..
- Avoid leaving CHOCOLATE TINS out for all to see (other wise you’ll end up swiping a few every time you walk past!). Keep the chocolate/biscuits/cakes in the cupboards and have healthy satsumas on view, dried fruit seasoned with cinnamon or roasted chestnuts (the only low fat nut around!). Think nutrition and taste, rather than just the latter!
- Avoid too much CAFFEINE. It may be tempting to load up on caffeine when you’re busy but I can guarantee that you will feel an awful lot better by replacing caffeine with more sleep and drinking peppermint tea instead – peppermint tea can help to reduce bloating, leaving your stomach happy!
- Always eat from a PLATE. This may sound obvious but you should ban eating straight from a packet. We tend to eat more from packets (especially large ones!) and so a good way of instigating portion control is to decide how much of the snack that you want to eat, put it on a plate and then eat it mindfully.
- Go easy on the ALCOHOL. Just 50ml of Irish Cream comes in at 175 calories, and a bottle of wine provides over 500 calories. Liquid calories can add up, so make sure to drink in moderation, choose single units of clear sprits with a diet mixer and alternate with drinks of water (this will help to prevent a nasty hangover too!).
- Be aware of alcohol MUNCHIES. When we drink, the liver has to deal with the alcohol meaning it stops releasing as much glucose (energy) into the blood.. this is why you may feel hungrier than usual after an alcoholic drink. Make sure to plan for these evening munchies by having healthy snacks on hand/in the fridge for when you get home!
- Don’t forget to EXERCISE. Exercise increases your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories) for up to 72 hours, so make sure to exercise at least 2-3 times a week for maximum benefit. HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises don’t take up much time and will help to burn off any exercises calories eaten!
.. AND REMEMBER..
HAVE FUN! Christmas comes around just once a year, so remember the 80/20 rule and if you do indulge then do so WITHOUT THE GUILT. A recent study showed that those who ate ‘treat foods’ and felt guilty weighed MORE than those who ate it in celebration, without any guilty feelings! No food is banned in a healthy balanced diet.. it’s all about moderation and NOT denying yourself the treat foods.
So go on, stop trying to lose weight over the festive period and just try to maintain it.. think ‘damage limitation’ rather than ‘deprivation’ – well, that’s going to be my ethos any way 🙂 .. a little bit of what you fancy does you good!
Have a great Christmas everyone – and don’t forget to share your ‘Healthy Christmas Tips’ below!