The holidays are a time for celebrating, for making merry, and spending time with friends and loved-ones. But, if you’re trying to stay healthy and lose weight, Christmas can be a real challenge. With countless parties and family gatherings, it’s a season full of temptation. So, if you don’t want to end up with a waistline like jolly old Saint Nick, read on.
Keep a food diary. The festive season is full of dietary pitfalls so it’s important to monitor your eating habits. Logging your daily intake will help you stay focused, stick to your goals, and ensure you continue to make the right nutritional choices. And, with a plethora of smart devices and calorie counting apps on the market, it’s easier than ever to keep track.
If you’re attending a friend’s dinner party over the festive season, it’s always wise to take a plate of your own. Contribute a healthy dish to the table, such as a light casserole or a pasta salad, and you’ll have at least one low-calorie option to pick from. You don’t even have to make it yourself; services like Deliveroo can deliver healthy options as well as the customary pizza. The same applies when you’re out and about. With all that last minute shopping it’s easy to fall off the wagon – grabbing that cheeseburger from the food court, or the extra-large Mocha from Starbucks. So, be prepared. Pack a flask of black coffee and ensure you have a ready supply of healthy snacks to hand. Hard-boiled eggs, protein bars, string cheese, and dried fruit are all good options.
Manage your portions. Studies have shown that we can rack up a belt-busting 7000 calories on Christmas Day alone – more than triple an adult’s recommended daily intake – so you need to be strict with your portion control. A good tip is to use a smaller plate. Research shows that simply reducing the size of your plate can put a considerable dent in your calorie consumption. Little adjustments help too. Strip the skin of your turkey, choose sweet potato instead of mashed or roasted, fill up your plate with colorful seasonal veg, and seek out leaner options at the buffet table – turkey, ham, and shrimp – rather than calorific offerings like canapes and cheese plates.
Kickstart your day with a hearty, healthy breakfast and you’ll be less inclined to snack later. Porridge is a good choice. Healthy grains and cereals help to balance blood sugar levels, keeping those pesky cravings at bay, and a sprinkling of blueberries will give your immune system a much-needed boost, warding off any nasty seasonal bugs. And remember to stay hydrated. The body can mistake dehydration for hunger, so if you’re not getting enough fluids you’re likely to eat more. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to guard against unwanted hunger pangs.
Savour your food. It’s much easier not to over-indulge when you eat slowly so take your time, enjoy every mouthful, and you’ll be less likely to overeat. Try not to skip regular meals too. It’s tempting to miss lunch in order to offset a big dinner party in the evening but it’s a sure-fire way of piling on the pounds. You’re much more likely to over-indulge on an empty stomach, particularly after a few glasses of the good stuff. Instead, eat a healthy protein-rich snack before you go out, such as natural yogurt with a few berries or some crackers with a generous dollop of cottage cheese. Proteins take longer for the body to digest, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and much less inclined to launch yourself at the buffet table.
It’s the festive season, after all, so don’t be too strict with yourself; life is about balance and you need to have fun too. Remember to set realistic goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if you fail once in a while. And, if you do gain the odd pound over the Christmas holidays, don’t despair; after all, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.