Christmas is approaching and along with the big present’s shopping comes the big eat. Christmas is almost synonymous with putting on weight. After all there are so many festive parties, dinners and goodies which you only get to enjoy once a year.
Can you go through the party season and not topple the scales but at the same time enjoy what the festivities have to offer? I say yes and it is easier than you may have thought. Read below our weight loss tips for Christmas.
Tip #1: Beware of the sweets
I think we all may know that sugar and sweets do contain a lot of calories and are what I call sticky; they stick in the thighs, belly, and bottom and well just about everywhere. If you have the will power of superman then you can go through the festive season without touching them but I’m sure there will not be many people who can do that.
1. Have a daily allowance of sweets. For example set a 200kcal limit a day or 2 sweets a day. Work it out in whichever way it suits you, whether it is keeping your sweet eating for one meal, or a little bit per day, or once a week.
2. Keep your sweet eat allowance for those sweets which you really want. Boxes of chocolates change hands constantly through the season and you could find a couple in work, a couple in the house, sweet sampling in the streets or shops, in your neighbour’s or friend’s house. As a matter of fact there are in every corner and they look inviting and delicious. Don’t spend your day picking and picking and picking, instead save it for those specific sweets which you have been waiting all year for.
Tip #2: Save your calories for the main meals
Cut down on snacking through the day. A lot people tend to pick food all day, and do what we call grazing. Once upon a time everybody used to advise that the secret to weight loss is to eat a little bit and often. This may be recommended if you have insulin/blood sugar problems or if your doctor has advised it for other reasons. However, in general grazing all day can have some problems.
1. You could be consuming more food than you think. Snacks such as a packet of crisps, a biscuit, and a cereal bar etc can contain a lot more calories than you think and when all put together they may be more than your main meal. Be especially careful during the festive period where there are snacks and nibbles everywhere.
2. Plan your snacks and meals so you have an account of how many times and what you are eating.
Tip #3: Plan for the dinner party
Do not skip meals. Do make sure you have the 3 main meals through the day. If you have a dinner party don’t just starve all day so you can save your calories for the evening meal. Starving all day and then having one big meal once a day will not do any favours to insulin levels or other metabolism and hunger controlling hormones. The result could be that you may be feeling hungrier and end up eating more or storing more calories as fat.
Tip #4: The ‘It is a healthy food so it is ok to eat it’ misconception
Well dried mixed nuts are good for you, right? So it is fine if you have a load of those caramelised hot nuts which are popular in Christmas markets, right? Actually the answer is no. Just because a food item contains some healthy ingredients it doesn’t mean that is automatically healthy or low on calories. For example a mixed fruit stew, cooked in masses of margarine and sugar probably has as much trans fats and calories as a portion of chips. Same could go for apples covered in chocolate or caramel, or other popular festive foods.
1. Think how far has this food come from its natural form and how much cooking and processing it has gone through before you eat it. Also what ingredients does it contain? A lot of commercially prepared food could be fried or cooked in vegetable oils and margarines. They could also contain high amounts of salts and sugars preservatives etc or you could be adding on top of it loads of toppings such as creams and sauces which are far from healthy.
2. Try home cooking. You could save a lot of money and calories. Well sugar is sugar but if you make your own apples and bake them instead of frying them or add less sugar, or in general go for healthier cooking options you could be better off. You could also be having some quality family time as well.
3. Count all calories. If you are trying to stay on a calorie budget then all calories do count no matter how small or secret or healthy they are. Be aware not to go mad or obsessed with calorie counting but be aware what’s coming in.
Tip #5: Work the buffet food.
Buffets are a common festive practice and in general are full of pastries, sandwiches, chips or potato wedges, pizza pieces, breads, mini burgers…and you can fill your plate as much as you like and usually as many times as you like!
1. Look carefully the options contained in a buffet and don’t just go through adding everything and anything. There are healthier options such as chicken pieces, salad, some past options. Avoid things which are drowning on mayonnaise or other creamy sauces, loads of pastries or bready foods such pizzas, burgers etc.
2. Don’t add it on your plate just because is there and don’t eat just for the sake of it. You do not have to eat from every single platter just because is there.
3. Don’t over fill your plate as if you are not going to see food for the next 10 years. It is a buffet and it could well be that there is enough food to feed the whole of the neighbourhood. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to eat it all. Add one layer not mountains and when you finish wait 5 minutes before you have a second helping. Think are you really hungry or do you just eat because it is there.
4. Don’t stand over the buffet and keep on picking. Do you ever say ‘I am on a diet’ or ‘I don’t want to eat loads’ and you just put one small piece of something on your plate? Then you sit or stand by the buffet and every 2 minutes you go and pick one thing. You can so easily loose count of how much food you had or what you had. Better put on your plate what you think you are going to eat and eat that, than kid yourself with regular trips and grazing.
4. Sit yourself away from the buffet or with your back to it. You will be less likely to go for seconds if you are not constantly looking for food or if you are sitting in a sit which is harder to go back out to the buffet.
Tip #6: Just because it’s free it doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
You walk through the mall or though the supermarket and there are tones of people who want to sample this and that. You have a tiny piece of chocolate, a piece of cheese, or a piece of cake. In addition, this morning someone brought a box of doughnuts in the office, or there was a buffet in the kid’s school. It is all offered for free so why turn it down.
As with everything else a little piece at the time adds up to a massive piece. You also loose count of what you had and finally just because it is free and someone offers it to you doesn’t mean you have to have it. Saying no thank you is not a bad thing.
Tip #7: Don’t fall into the festive moment of compulsive buying & compulsive eating.
The festive season more than often does end up with masses of money being spend and giving in to compulsive buying. As with everything else left post festivities you have loads of food still to eat in your kitchen.
Marketing is well designed to make you buy and with the festive season is so easy to give in to compulsive shopping without a second thought. But think to yourself do you really need so much of everything. The more you buy the more you are likely to eat and from experience it is usually around March that the last box of chocolate gets eaten.