The festive season is the time when we usually indulge ourselves in big meals, plenty of chocolate and drinks. However, while trying to celebrate it as happily as we can with our friends or relatives, it would be wise to keep an eye on the calorie intake hidden into an average Christmas dinner. Research shows us that a woman might gain up to 3 kilos over the holidays, enough to make our best jeans too tight.
So, what can we do in order to keep fit and still enjoy ourselves? Deborah Boutwell, Dietician of The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, says it’s all about balance.
If you know your family is having a dinner where there will be lots of food, be proactive and don’t go hungry. Have a light snack of fruit, veggies, or low-fat cheese before the event. Also, fill your plate first with vegetables, fruits, and salad before diving into the entrees and desserts, and encourage family members to do the same. Keep in mind that a person’s rounded palm equals ½ cup and is an appropriate portion size for most foods.
Of course, nobody wants to spoil your party and after this tough year we believe everyone needs to relax a little, so rather than denying yourself all those festive treats why don’t you consider few of these tricks to avoid overeating. CrunchyTales has rounded-up the best tips for a mindful festive approach to healthy eating.
Do not skip breakfast
Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast can stimulate and motivate healthy choices throughout the day. You may think skipping it will save calories, but research has shown when you do that, you’re likely to gorge at dinner. Instead, have a balanced one and enjoy a satisfying lunch the day of the event. Consuming a healthy breakfast also boosts metabolism and restores the glucose levels in the body and lowers stress levels.
Small portions, better choices
Avoid going hungry to parties. Eating something light before your big meal, will reduce your chances of snacking on high-calorie party food. To keep yourself from overindulging, nutritionist Janet Brancatom, founder of MyNutopia, suggests having a small snack like yoghurt, carrots or apple. “Also, try to slow down eating and enjoy each bite – she says- . Allow yourself to have a small portion of a sweet holiday favourite“.
When possible, switch larger plates for smaller ones or use a bowl, as it will look fuller than a plate. Swap the high-fat snacks for crudités and avoid mini sausages (60 calories each – more if wrapped in bacon), Yorkshire puddings (up to 100 calories a time), stuffing (231 calories per serving) and roast potatoes (150 calories per serving). Instead fill your plate first with Brussels sprouts or parsnips. Say no to cream on your pudding and you’ll save 450 calories. Or just have a tablespoon, which only has 135 calories.
Drinking enough water is essential for burning off fat from food and drink, as well as stored fat. Drinking water throughout the day, especially when attending festive dinners, will also help our body not to mistake our dehydration for hunger. According to Medical News Today water is a natural appetite suppressant. Without it, the body cannot properly metabolize stored fat or carbohydrates.
Drink alcohol in moderation
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mulled wine or fizz but alcohol is one of the main reasons we gain weight over the festive season. Remember, the less you drink, the more calories you save. One gram of alcohol contains almost as many calories as 1g of fat. Avoid creamy drinks like Baileys, shots and cocktails as they’re packed with fat, sugar and calories.
Exercise is a great way to combat those Christmas calories. As long as you manage to keep yourself physically active during the Festive period, you will keep your metabolism running, and your body will have an easier time burning off all the excess calories.
Fitting in a morning workout on the days when you’re expecting a massive dinner would be perfect. You can either have a walk after dinner and explore the surroundings or improvise a dance around your tree. Dancing burns up to 100 calories per hour and also helps to minimise stress. And don’t forget to do the washing up afterwards you can spend up to 105 calories.