Christmas, a wonderful time of year, from parties with endless wine, canapes and chocolates to staying in with Christmas movies, a large hot chocolate and mince pies. Yet in turn, our waistlines can often take a hit with most people consuming an extra 3,500 calories over the Christmas period. However, having a merry, healthy and guilt-free Christmas can be achieved by following the five tips below:
1. Have Three Meals Per Day
Having a daily routine of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner will prevent you from overeating throughout the day. For example, having a breakfast of porridge with cinnamon, fruit and a teaspoon of nut butter will regulate your blood sugar levels and provide satiety, preventing later sugar cravings when you’d reach for the nearby chocolates where one can equal roughly 75 calories. Ensure to also chew your food slowly to allow your brain to register when you’re full and have better digestion.
If attending a party, have a snack before leaving such as a pot of greek yoghurt with fruit to prevent arriving hungry and overindulging in calorie-rich canapes i.e. spring rolls, sausage rolls and mini quiches. These can contain approximately 170-200 calories each.
2. Stay Hydrated
Often, we mistake hunger for thirst, resulting in unnecessary snacking. Aim for 2 litres of water per day (this includes tea/coffee). This equals 8 glasses, or invest in a labelled 1-litre water bottle to sip on and refill once throughout your day. If you’re not a big fan of water add some sliced fruit or mint for flavour.
3. Be Mindful Of Portion Control And Cooking Methods
To avoid overeating throughout the Christmas period, use a smaller plate, filling it mostly with vegetables and choice of protein i.e. chicken, fish etc. Include smaller portions of carbohydrates i.e. of mashed potatoes as they are typically high in calories with added butter, cream or milk.
For the big day itself, Christmas day, depending on your goals, plan to have a lower calorie starter and desserts such as fresh fruit or a seafood platter for starter and low-calorie custard/yoghurt instead of cream with puddings.
However, for your Christmas dinner, enjoy it, including the extra trimmings i.e. ham, stuffing, potato gratin and gravy. Yes, this meal is often high in calories but should be consumed guilt-free.
Yet if you’re in charge of cooking and want to reduce your calories, choose lower calorie dairy ingredients i.e. low-fat milk and cheese, opt for seasoning with herbs rather then salt, remove the skin from the turkey and steam, bake or grill food rather than frying.
4. Drink Responsibly
As recommended by the Department of Health and Health Service Executive, the low-risk weekly guidelines for alcohol consumption include 17 standard drinks for men and 11 for women (spread over a week with a minimum of 2-3 days alcohol-free). A standard drink equals 1 half pint of beer/1 small glass of wine.
Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and can also reduce your blood sugar, in turn causing hunger, therefore it is important to drink in moderation and be mindful of your drink and its calorie contents:
- 1 pint of ale/cider/lager/stout equates to approximately 170-240 calories.
- 1 glass (125ml) champagne equates to approximately 90 calories.
- 1 large glass (250ml) of red/white wine equates to approximately 170-235 calories.
- 1 (35ml) brandy, gin, vodka, whiskey equates to approximately 80 calories.
Aim to use smaller glasses, low-calorie mixers, lots of ice and drink a glass of water between each drink.
5. Move More
Finally, if you’re consuming more calorie-rich foods over the Christmas period, it’s important to move more and fit some exercise into your schedule to avoid weight gain whether it’s dancing, walking, running, cycling etc. Also, why not park the car further away from your destination or get off at an earlier bus stop to increase your steps or if you’ve been training for a race, keep up your great work.
All of this movement will allow you to burn more calories to account for eating your delicious festive foods.
Most importantly, have a happy, healthy and merry Christmas!