It’s party season and while temptation lies all around us, it is possible to stay trim even with all the trimmings.
By just making small changes to the way we eat over the Christmas holidays we can avoid the feeling of excess bloat and general discomfort so we come out of the other side feeling fresh and ready to tackle the New Year with gusto.
Christmas is described as a time of excess, but you really don’t have to overindulge to have a good time. Just take these small tips to ensure you stay healthy.
- Go nutty – within reason. Nuts are everywhere you look at Christmas. They pack a real nutritional punch, containing selenium, which is great for hair skin and nails, and potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamin E. Steer clear of salted varieties if possible, and stick to healthier chestnuts, walnuts and brazil nuts, which will also help to fill you up quicker as they are high energy foods.
- Don’t throw the leftovers – Really healthy meals can be knocked up with leftovers and a little bit of consideration. Add cold meats to a large, fresh salad, or save your left over veg for a healthy bubble and squeak (easy on the oil and salt!)
- Swap shortcrust for filo – pastry is a dieter’s worst nightmare, and Christmas is the time when it’s around every corner. Rather than cutting it out completely, try using a lighter filo pastry instead of the dense shortcrust for a healthier alternative.
- Breakfast like a king - An indulgent Christmas breakfast doesn’t have to mean a fry-up. A decadent serving of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (easy on the butter) means that you can enjoy the luxuries of Christmas without giving yourself a coronary. Smoked salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids which is good for the heart, and boosts the brain. Scrambled eggs are a good source of protein and eggs hold a good deal of beneficial vitamins and minerals in them, making them a low-fat meal.
- Baste sensibly -Think about how you cook your meat for the main Christmas meal, and rather than lashing it with butter and oil, baste it in its own juices and use extra fats sparingly. You’ll also end up with a less fatty gravy if you make it from the meat juices. The basic ingredients of a Christmas meal are all good hearty foods, which have high vitamin content, and low fat content. But often when we get our hands on the Christmas veg, we like to through a lot of butter, bacon, honey-glazes, salt, and other naughty things on top. Try to minimise the extra unhealthy toppings and side dishes, and focus instead on the star of the show – the turkey, and serve with roasties (you can’t not have those on Christmas day), and all the traditional veg.
- Portion sensibly – For some reason Christmas comes along and we decide that our stomachs have suddenly doubled in size. We pile food onto our plates as if it’s going out of fashion, and leave ourselves feel overstuffed and uncomfortable. Treat the Christmas portions the same as you would any other day of the year, don’t over face yourself, and keep a little room left over for a little treat later in the day. The average weight gain for one person over Christmas is 5lbs over the four week festive period. On Christmas day, the average reveller can pack away a whopping 6,000 calories. Considering the recommended average intake for a women is 1500, and for a man 2000, this really does take the biscuit.
- Order your food – When faced with a pile of turkey, veg, and all the trimmings, tackle the veg first - this way you know you’ve done the healthy bit before you feel completely stuffed. You’ll be leaving the greasy sausages wrapped in bacon and the last few roast potatoes, rather than the healthy veg this way.
- Easy on the alcohol – The wine is flowing, as is the port, the whisky, the cocktails and the aperitifs. In fact alcohol consumption increases by 40 per cent over Christmas. Alcohol packs a real punch when it comes to calories, and for most of us this is where the real significant weight gain comes from. To start with, set yourself a time, say 7pm, before which you won’t start drinking. During this time stick to juices and water. After 7pm, make sure you pace yourself and don’t overfill your glass. You can still enjoy a Christmas drink, but you’ll feel more in control. Drinking too much alcohol also exacerbates the problem of eating too much. When drunk, our bodies decide we need to take on more calories so we tend to choose unhealthy snacks, and eat for the sake of it.
You don’t need to be a killjoy at Christmas to save yourself a few calories – you just have to make some small changes, which will make you feel on top of the world when you wake up on New Year's Day morning.