Don’t put tradition before nutrition! Christmas day is fast approaching which means being surrounded by family, friends and an abundance of food, glorious food! But don’t use Christmas as an opportunity to go off track, the holidays can be a time for transforming our lives rather than our waistlines, so think before you indulge. To help make this Christmas as guilt-free as possible, I am here to share some tips and tricks on how to do as little damage to your waistline as possible but still have an enjoyable and festive day!
1. If you know that you’re going to a party, don’t arrive starving. There’s bound to be food on offer that tempts your taste buds at every turn, so make sure you eat something healthy beforehand. Chances are, there probably won’t be a lot of salad-type ingredients available, so make yourself a quick, easy chicken/salmon salad to top your system up first.
2. If you’re not drinking alcohol at the moment, then refusing a drink won’t be a problem for you. If you do choose to drink however, make sure you drink water in between alcoholic drinks. If you’re out at a restaurant, ask the waiter to provide a carafe of water for the table, and ask them to fill it up and drink from it regularly. And don’t be tempted with the coffee at the end of the night – unless you want to be awake for hours afterwards!
3. If your ‘do’ is buffet-style, then my suggestion would be to fill up your plate and move away from the table, so you’re not tempted to keep picking. Choose enough so that you eat once and feel comfortably full. Goal – collect plate, select foods and promptly do an about turn!
4. This one’s simple – whatever you do, don’t touch the bread basket. I often go out with friends who peck away at the bread basket before our starter/main course. Guess who finishes their dinner feeling satisfied but not bloated? Me! I don’t eat bread as a general rule anyway, but if you simply say “No” when bread is offered to you, you won’t be tempted to eat it. People look at me strangely when I say I don’t eat bread, but then when I follow that up with, “It bloats my stomach, sits there for hours and I don’t enjoy eating anything afterwards”, their face soon changes. Be bold and confident with your personal food choices.
5. When you’re eating from a buffet or choosing from a set menu, run your eyes over everything on offer and choose dishes/plates that have the highest content of protein in them. Order lean protein dishes (ask for the sauce/gravy on the side for example), and go all out on salads, veggies and feel free to pick on the olives beforehand if they’re on offer (but not the bread!)
6. Brussels sprouts are about to hit our shelves, discard your childhood nightmare memories of tasteless green sprouts! Slice them up, or take the leaves off them, pop them in the oven on a My Relationship with Food Baking mat, 5 minutes before the end, top the Brussels sprouts with parmesan. Delicious and great to snack on!
7. If you are doing the Christmas rounds to family and friends’, don’t feel you have to eat everything in sight, pace yourself and think wisely about where you’re eating next.
8. Make sure you hydrate throughout the day- often when we are thirsty we can confuse this feeling with hunger. My top tip would be to flavour your water with fruits or vegetables to make it more exciting and thirst quenching!
9. Take note of the slow eaters around the table and instead of quizzing why they take their time to eat, try their pace. Trust me, the slower you eat, the quicker you will become pleasantly full, which will last for longer than someone who rushes their meal, eats twice as much, and then is hungry a couple of hours later!
10. Avoid foods that have minimal nutritional value, such as sugar and fat laden cakes and biscuits. You might look at festive celebrations as being only once a year, and I might be sounding like Scrooge but more often than not more people tend to overindulge over Christmas Eve/Day and Boxing Day and soon regret the unwanted extra pounds.
11. With time off work around Christmas, take it as an opportunity to start your day off with some movement; whether it’s a brisk walk or a 5k run. Most of us are much less likely to overeat if we’ve done some sort of exercise (and if you do overindulge, you’ll have already burned some calories anyway).
12. Finally, think before you indulge. Over time we have lost the sense to allow our bodies’ natural cues to tell us when to start and stop eating-stress, life and time all factor in. I challenge you this holiday season to get back in touch with your childlike state, allowing your body to guide you on your holiday food choices, not your emotions. From oversized portions, to repeated visits to the buffet table, alcohol overindulgence, to dessert overload; mindful eating needs to take over, you need to be conscious what you put on your plate.
Have a wonderful, happy and healthy festive time.