Helpful tips in order to avoid Christmas weight gain
We all love a mince pie but we’re not so keen on the thought of piling on the festival flab. Here are some top festive weight watching tips.
Most of us know that scoffing a dozen chocolate oranges isn’t a good idea, but certain Christmas time health hazards are less obvious. Some foods – including certain meat and dairy products – contain an amino acid called tryptophan which can cause sleepiness.
Carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, which is why carbohydrate-heavy meals can cause drowsiness. And you’ll burn significantly more calories with a winter walk than by falling asleep on the sofa. Balance blood sugar and insulin levels by choosing natural foods high in fibre and protein, such as whole grains and nuts.
Candy canes and toffee apples might be part and parcel of Christmas, but remember that too much sugar can quickly lead to weight gain – not just because of the calorie intake but because we can eat large quantities of sugary sweets and still feel hungry.
There is no nutritional benefit to eating sugar – it will give you the calories, but not the feeling that you’ve had enough. That’s why you can have an entire king-size bag of sweets and still eat dinner!
Eat more meals
It might sound like a strange tip, but eating a light meal before that enormous Christmas dinner might help prevent weight gain in the long run. Try to eat a healthy meal beforehand to avoid overeating during the evening – and keep chatting! If you’re engrossed in conversation you’ll be less inclined to want a mouthful of food and will also drink more slowly.
A healthy diet can be tricky when there’s a bowl of crisps or a box of chocolates around every corner, but you can make some healthy substitutes. Instead of having salted peanuts and crisps with your drinks, swap them for lightly salted popcorn, rice cakes, carrot batons, dates and almonds. Opt for tomato or vegetable-based dips such as salsa and hummus instead of cream cheese-laden treats. You can substitute cream for a yummy Greek yogurt in most recipes.
Chuck out those chocolates!
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a large box of chocolates, but do you really need three? Or four? Someone is bound to bring yet another monster size box of chocolates. Make it the gift that keeps on giving and donate it to your local hospital or care home. Some boxes of chocolates are big enough to feed a village, but if they’re in front of you, you will finish them quicker than you can say Flabby New Year. If you don’t have it in the house, you won’t eat it!
If you’re not a fan of Brussels sprouts, you’ll probably want to leave them until last, but you could just take a different approach. On Christmas day, eat your turkey first, followed by your greens and then the roast potatoes. This means that you’ll fill up on nutritionally beneficial proteins and nutrients, whilst avoiding over eating those dense carbohydrates.
Having a rough idea of the calorie count of certain food items can help stop us piling on the pounds. Even though mince pies are small, they can have up to 200 calories. However, one of the main offenders is stuffing, which can have upwards of 220 calories per portion. Bacon-wrapped sausages have almost 200 calories per portion and keeping the skin on your turkey can add around 40 calories.
People also need to be aware of adding unnecessary calories to their plate in the form of condiments – cranberry sauce has high sugar content and one portion of bread sauce can add 40 calories. Christmas pudding, especially when coated in brandy butter or sauce, can have more than 300 calories, with trifle doesn’t fare much better at over 220 calories.
If your trifle is soaked in alcohol, the fact that the calorie count will be even higher shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Increased alcohol consumption is one of the biggest causes of Christmas weight gain. Avoid taking on unnecessary calories through alcohol. If you do decide to drink, stick to clear spirits with sensible mixers such as soda water and fresh lime. Mulled wine may be preferable, but a small glass can have almost 200 calories in!
Don’t fancy the thought of braving the snow and ice? Why not burn some calories indoors, instead? Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean that your exercise regime can go on holiday too. If you don’t have time to make it to the gym as frequently as usual, there are plenty of types of exercise which can be done inside. Why not grab a skipping rope? It’s fun and burns an impressive ten calories every minute. Or get the Wii out and play with relatives, or invite friends round for a game. Plus, with thousands of free exercise videos on YouTube there really is no excuse – get sweating!
Everything in moderation…
It’s important to remember that vowing to keep 50 metres between you and the faintest sniff of a calorie simply isn’t going to work – after all, Christmas is the one time we can indulge ourselves. One of the main tips would be not to resist everything – it’s Christmas after all and denying yourself will only make you crave it more. Just don’t let your healthy regime become completely derailed. Allow yourself to relax on Christmas Day but don’t fall into the trap of relaxing for the whole month leading up to it! Picture yourself on the treadmill in January and how positive you will feel to be continuing your regime rather than working to get back to how you were pre-Christmas.