By now many of you may be close to hitting the brick wall that is December indulgence. Work dos, drinks with friends and the big day is still yet to come. It can be tempting at this time of year to just go with the flow and deal with the consequences in January.
I am a firm believer in letting your hair down at Christmas time, it’s good for the mind and good to let the body recover from the year. It also a perfect time to reflect on you successes and aspirations for the year ahead.
So how can you have your Christmas cake and eat it?
This is my five step guide to flexible eating and exercise over the holiday period to stop you starting January 7 or more lbs heavier!
The number one thing you can do to limit the weight gain this Christmas is to be accountable. Talk to you friends and family and explain why you want to make these small changes and that you need them to support and help you, not lead you astray. Nobody will mind and they will help you to make smarter choices that you will pay dividends come January.
I plan out Christmas strategies with all my clients that allow them to have the best of both worlds while still focusing on the bigger picture. Being accountable to yourself and those around you is very motivating and will make navigating this tricky time of year much smoother.
2. Christmas Drinks.
Alcohol carries with it a lot of waist expanding calories that have no nutritional benefit to the body as well as actively stimulating your appetite. Help to counteract this by ordering a soda water with your first drink. This will be ignored by friends and allows you to fill up on water and keep you hydrated, avoiding both calorie and hunger pangs. Order a water with each drink to slow you alcohol intake over an evening. Alternatively enjoy a glass of wine with your meal and stick to water the rest of the time.
Alcohol by numbers:
Large Glass of wine 250ml: 230Kcal
Prosecco,125ml flute:89 Kcal
Pint of Larger 5%: 244Kcal
3. Menu Management- Eating Out
If you are eating out, then look up the menu online before you arrive. When you arrive at the restaurant you won’t need to look at the menu and will avoid the temptation to change your mind. This approach can save you a stack of extra calories and without feeling deprived of anything.
Fish is always a good choice but avoid creamy sauces. Steak can be served with baked potatoes and ask for veg not to be served with butter. Pate, terrine, cheese and processed cooked meats are all high in fat and will pack a lot of calories. Salads, soups and fish will generally make for lighter choices depending on the menu. If you’re heading for a pre-Christmas curry then make it a tomato based dish such as bhuna or tandoori chicken on the bone. Rice is always enough for two so share with a friend or only load your plate with half, always opt for plain boiled rice to save even more calories.
If you’re out for a three course meal you could pick the healthiest starter and skip dessert, but have the main that you really want. This is a compromise allows you to have a little of what you want without adding more calories on top, equally you could have two courses and chose a starter or dessert.
4. Christmas Dinner
Generally a turkey roast is not too bad, it’s the “extras” and the epic Christmas portions that tip you over the edge. We have come a long way since the cave man days and your next meal is not likely to be days apart. Christmas day is one day and you don’t need to eat like it’s your last meal.
If you are cooking then keep enough vegetables aside that contain no butter to save on fat and calories. Don’t pile the roast potatoes high and avoid creamy additions like dauphinoise potatoes. Chose the leaner breast meat of the turkey over the leg and add flavour to carrots with cumin seeds and a drizzle of honey while roasting. Fill out your plate with vegetables like broccoli and greens rather than too much starchy potatoes, carrots and parsnips.
Try to avoid drinking before your meal if possible as this will stimulate your appetite and lead you into over eating. If you do make it a lighter choice such as Prosecco and enjoy this just before you eat.
5. Get Moving!
Its not just the season of eating that causes the big December weight gain but the lack of physical activity that compounds the weight increases. Walking before your Christmas dinner and again afterwards will help to digest the food and to help burn off a few of the calories as well. This can be a great way to break up the main course and dessert as it will allow you dinner to digest and help you to feel fuller and avoid overeating.
As many people have a week or more off at this time of year it is in fact an ideal time to be more active, not less. Head to the pool, squeeze in a yoga class or head out for a run. Many Park Run (free 5K run series) are running extra events over the Christmas period and can easily be fitted into your day without taking it over. If all that sounds too much then get out with the family and go for a walk. Head to the seaside, park or shops if you have to, but just get out and get moving!
Have a happy & healthy Christmas