Let's be honest, the tail end of the year is all about indulgence but there's a few ways you can keep your health on track during the silly season. Women's Health spoke to Kate Save, accredited dietitian and founder of weight loss meal program Be Fit Food, to find out her best tips for having a happy and healthy Christmas.
1. Portion control is key
Portion and balance are the key on Christmas day. So, whether it be a full hot Christmas lunch or a seafood platter, just make sure you have a small portion and don’t over eat. Protein is essential to help to increase satiety. If you are going to go back for a second helping of anything, make it the salad as this is the lowest calorie option with small amounts of lean meats and seafood. For dessert, have a small serve of plum pudding and custard and fill the plate out with some fresh berries.
2. Minimise alcohol consumption
Minimising alcohol on Christmas day or at least alternating each alcoholic beverage with a glass mineral water will slow down the alcohol intake while minimising the consumption of empty calories. Plus you will stay in control of your inhibitions and be able to exercise better dietary control.
3. Limit starchy carbs
The main foods to minimise are the starchy carbs and snack foods such as bread, rice, pasta, potato, chips, crackers and fried foods as they will cause a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a drop a few hours later, leaving you feeling hungry again. Rich desserts should also be minimised to one serve, although not necessarily avoided as it is Christmas!
4. Stay hydrated
Keeping water intake up will help to keep you hydrated and assist you from confusing thirst with hunger, preventing mindless eating.
5. Snack smart
Portioning out your nibbles onto a plate helps you to control your total snack food intake rather than grazing over many hours and underestimating actually how much food you are consuming. The same applies at meal times so that you are in control of exactly how much you are consuming.
6. Pace yourself
Slow down. Chew your food well and eat your meal slowly. If you finish after everybody else has finished, you are less likely to want a second helping.
7. Walk it off
The best way to burn off a feast is to do some exercise. This could be getting up and going for a walk Christmas morning in preparation for the feast or an evening walk on Christmas night. Once Christmas has passed, return to your regular exercise regime and if you have over indulged slightly, then make the walk a little bit more intense with hills and a little longer in distance to burn off some extra calories.
8. Try intermittent fasting
Use the principles of the 2 and 5 diet and try having a few ‘fasting days’ with 500 calories for females and 600 calories for males two days per week then return to a normal healthy diet to help compensate. Alternatively, you can consider a weight loss meal program like Be Fit Food which considers the macronutrient content of foods and uses nutritional science to induce healthy, rapid weight loss. The advantages of using a real food weight loss meal delivery program is that it ensures you are having the portion sizes, calories and macronutrients you need with the convenience of not having to make the meals yourself.
But above all...
Enjoy yourself. Remember that Christmas only comes around once per year. So don’t spend the whole day stressing about your weight or weight loss goals. Relax, enjoy yourself and keep portion and balance in your mind. Keep your plate colourful and choose nutritious foods rather than ‘beige’ foods to help keep you healthy and satisfied too.