With tinsel, fairy lights and candy canes suddenly appearing at the shops and along the streets, it can only mean one thing: Christmas is here! And whilst Christmas is a time for enjoying the break and the company of family and friends, sometimes it’s also accompanied by a little unwanted weight gain. With all the social events and celebrations it can be hard to make sure that you’re eating healthily and staying on track. If you feel this is you, read on! I’ve compiled a list of my top 4 tips for eating sensibly over the silly season that’ll not only keep your diet in check, but your Christmas just as merry!
1. Fill Up on the Good Stuff When you’re hungry, sometimes your stomach thinks it knows best and tricks you in to eating more than you really need. This may be troublesome if you’re trying to watch your weight. Make sure that you don’t go to events or parties feeling peckish, as you’re more likely to snack on less healthy options as well as have more of them. A good idea is to eat a small handful of nuts, a piece of fruit or a tub of reduced fat yogurt before you go to tame your tummy.
For your Christmas lunch or dinner celebrations, pile up your plate with veggies! A general rule is that half your plate should be filled with vegetables (and I’m not just talking about potatoes – try to make your plate as colourful as possible!), one quarter protein like meat, chicken, fish, eggs or legumes and one quarter carbohydrate like pasta, rice or bread. Eating your vegetables first is best as they fill you up for fewer kilo-joules (as well as providing numerous vitamins and minerals to benefit your health!). So if you can tell that you’re starting to feeling full during your meal, leave what’s left on your plate. If you’re still feeling hungry after your meal, wait about 20 minutes. If you still feel hungry after this time, go back and grab another serve of vegetables!
2. The Extras on Xmas If your Christmas is anything like mine, there is always an abundance of food! In the weeks leading up to Christmas my pantry somehow gets stocked up with all sorts of goodies like chocolate and shortbread which, I will admit, is very tempting when I’m looking for a snack but not very good for watching what I eat. If you’re like me, a great way to remove these temptations is to take a couple of boxes of the treats to gatherings to share with your family and friends. Sharing is caring – for your waistline that is!
Christmas is a day to indulge and relax however, more often than not, there is a lot of food leftover after the celebrations have ended. And more often than not, it’s your diet that suffers. To prevent overindulging in the weeks post-Christmas, aim to cook smaller portions for your Christmas celebration so that there isn’t as much leftover food. If leftovers are inevitable, make an effort to divvy up the remainders amongst family or friends. And if that STILL doesn’t work, freeze your leftovers in small portions so they don’t go to waste, but they won’t go to your waist either.
3. Festive Drinks Choosing to drink alcohol as a part of celebrating special occasions is no problem, however having too much may lead to unwanted weight gain as alcohol is high in kilo-joules. It’s important to have a few things in the back of your mind when choosing to drink alcohol. Firstly, a standard drink equals 10g of alcohol. This is roughly equivalent to: 100ml of wine, 285ml full strength beer, 375ml mid strength beer, 30ml of spirits or 275ml of full strength premix spirits. Secondly, it’s recommended to stick to 1-2 standard drinks per day as well as having at least 2 alcohol free days per week.
These can be challenging recommendations to stick to, especially if you’re in social situations and are enjoying drinking! So how can you make sure you’re following them? Well, my top tips are:
Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Bonus points if the non-alcoholic drinks are low in kilo-joules, such as water with lemon, soda water or diet cordial
Make sure you finish your glass before you top up to keep track of how much you’ve had to drink. Drink slowly – pace yourself and really enjoy each mouthful
Mix white wine with soda water to make a spritzer
Choose light beer
4. Simple Swaps Low fat doesn’t mean low flavour and low fun! Swapping a higher energy option for a lower energy option is a fantastic way to still enjoy your favourite Christmas treats, but at a lesser expense for your waistline. One that’s been personally tried and tested is using Greek yogurt as a substitute for thickened cream to top your pavlova. Trust me, it tastes delicious and has about 75% less saturated fat! Add some fresh fruit on top and your Christmas dessert is sorted! Some other suggestions include:
Roast your vegetables in a drizzle of sunflower oil instead of fat or butter.
Bring along veggie sticks and hummus as an appetiser instead of chips or crackers and cheese.
Swap creamy dressings for lemon juice, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil or seeded mustard•
Take a healthier twist on the classic rum-ball by swapping out the condensed milk and sweet biscuits for almond meal, honey or dates. There are heaps of good recipes online!•
If you’re feeling like something sweet, go for a piece of fruit instead of chocolate or lollies. For me, Christmas means lots of watermelon, cherries and nectarines – yum!
Choose smaller portions of your favourite treats: mini mince pies, petite pavlovas•
Take advantage of the typical warm weather of an Aussie Christmas and swap a hot meal for fresh seafood and healthy salads – delicious and lower in kilo-joules.
The holiday season is one meant to be merry and bright, not one focused on what you can’t do and can’t have in order to watch your waistline. My top tips provide ways that you can still enjoy the silly season, but in a sensible way. And don’t forget – enjoying the occasional treat is totally fine! Just remember to choose a small amount and savour every mouthful.