BY RACHEL BOWER
Christmas is a time for over indulgence and any diet resolutions can start in the new year … and you thought synthetic Christmas jumpers, open log fires and too much Prosecco was a bad idea!
The festive period can be an incredibly tempting time but if you have been smashing your nutrition goals nothing is worse than undoing all the hard work you’ve put in and having to restrict yourself even further when the decorations come down. So, if you have the willpower of steel and have chosen to continue to be mindful of your eating this holiday here’s how:
FIRST THINGS FIRST
It’s Christmas, there is going to be lots of food and drink on offer everywhere you go. You will eat and drink different foods at different times in different quantities. There will be an abundance of social events and your exercise schedule may take a hit. Just remember, it’s Christmas, this is perfectly normal. Don’t beat yourself up because you had a mince pie - but do have words with yourself if you polish off the whole box. Focus your efforts on maintenance rather than achieving goals or gaining personal bests.
You may need to reschedule that spin class you will miss due to the office party or squeeze in a Boxx class before work on the day of Christmas drinks with your mates but if you use your time wisely you can still maintain regular exercise. Also eat regularly, don’t fast before a big meal and run the risk of overeating, even eat before you go. This may sound crazy but fill up on nutritious food so you don’t spend the whole evening hoovering up twiglets and Quality Street. If you seriously want to resist temptation you can even bring something to the party. Check with the host first - you are helping them with their party prep plus you know exactly what’s in your dish so you can tuck right in.
PICK YOUR POISON
Alcoholic drinks contain an shed load of hidden calories so don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve been good staying away from the mince pies when you’ve downed six sugar laden cocktails and a couple of beers. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are often full of carbs and sugar so opt for lower calorie drinks such as Champagne (it’s Christmas - like we need an excuse!) or vodka and soda, both coming in at just under 100 calories.
Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and lead to poor eating choices so drink in moderation. A liquid lunch is a false economy, and I’m not just talking about the calories from alcohol. That late night McDonalds on the train home to ‘soak up’ the alcohol really isn’t going to help. Also watch your portion size, if you are self pouring it can be easy to consume double the standard measure without realising. In a 50ml measure of Amaretto there are just under 200 calories (let’s not mention the sugar content) so a free pouring double measure is almost 400 calories! Finally, drink plenty of water. This isn’t just to stave off your hangover, you will also feel fuller and will be less likely to overindulge.
BEWARE THE BUFFET
Always use a plate rather than picking at food so you know how much you’ve eaten and make sure you choose the right foods. Limit anything fried, with pastry or containing empty calories. Opt for unprocessed high protein foods and fruit and vegetables. Choose lean meats (Iceland prawn ring anyone?), go to town on the crudités and satisfy your sweet tooth with the fruit basket rather than filling your plate with spring rolls, Vol au Vents and half a Yule log. Finally, make things easy for yourself, you may have willpower of steel but standing close to the buffet will really test it. Fill your plate then move away to lessen the temptation of picking.
FILL UP ON GOODNESS
The average person is estimated to consume almost a whopping 6000 calories on Christmas Day. This is around three times as much as the daily recommended intake for women. Be mindful and ensure any food swaps are for things you enjoy. It is Christmas after all so don’t sit down watching everyone tuck into their turkey while putting on a brave face over your salad. Fill your plate with vegetables and don’t be afraid to have some turkey. Try and choose white breast meat as this comes in at under 150 calories a slice. Be aware of hidden calories from things such as butter basting the turkey, honey used to roast vegetables and sugar added to sweeten sauces. If you are doing the cooking this year keep some aside and reduce the amount used or exclude completely depending on how strict you want to be. If you are hosting it’s easy to introduce healthy alternatives to the dinner table. For example, a single roast potato can contain as much as 200 calories. Offer boiled or mashed potatoes as well but resist the temptation to add cream.
Make sure you eat breakfast and don’t leave too long of a gap between meals so you don’t sit down overly hungry and then overeat. Slow down and savour your Christmas meal, your body takes time to register that it’s full. However, make sure you are satisfied, if you leave the table hungry you will be more likely to nibble, pick at leftovers and finish off the whole of that Toblerone.
It is Christmas after all, but ask your self ‘is it worth it?’ Eat the cake, drink the eggnog, but do so in moderation. Portion control is key to make sure you don’t miss out while still being mindful about your eating. Remember, health is about balance, nutritional and emotional so don’t place pressure on yourself to be perfect and feel guilty if you stray from your eating plan. Only eat what you really want. Don’t feel obliged to eat something because it’s put in front of you. Yes it’s Christmas, but do you truly like Egg Nog and Christmas cake? If not, opt for something else. When there is something you really want, eat it. Eat it in moderation and own the decision - do not feel guilty, feel proud, after all, you could have eaten the whole Christmas pudding so a small slice with no cream isn’t that bad is it? Class it as a treat, have that last Ferrero Rocher as a well done for staying away from the filo wraps. This is all about prioritising your food, think about what you want the most then work the rest of your eating around it. Be realistic with your nutrition goals over the festive period, enjoy yourself and most importantly, have a great Christmas!
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