Is it possible to have a healthy Christmas?
With the UK ranked as the second highest consumer of calories over Christmas dinner (pipped to the post only by 2 calories by the USA), it’s pretty easy to see why we don’t have healthy Christmas habits. But is there a way to stay on track during the feasting… I mean festive season?
The UK is estimated to consume a whopping 3289 calories over Christmas dinner alone, the highest in Europe, almost double than of Lithuania (1885 kcal) and the Czech Republic (1940 kcal). Coupled together with the many Christmas parties in the lead up, the string of sedentary days of leisurely dining followed by the boozy New Year’s party, it’s no wonder why we can gain up to 5 pounds over the festive season. So let’s talk tactics: here are my 12 days of Christmas tips for avoiding those extra sneaky pounds, and how to stay on track for a healthy Christmas.
Get enough sleep
We often burn the candle at both ends during the wind up to the big day, meaning we are more susceptible to colds and flus. Previous studies have shown that getting 8 hours or more sleep per night can reduce your risk of cold and flu viruses, so be sure to catch your 40 winks every night.
While I’m not suggesting croissants and full fat lattes are the way to go, having a healthy balanced breakfast can help you keep going during the day. Try to incorporate some healthy protein such as scrambled eggs or smoked salmon alongside complex carbohydrates to help keep you fuller for longer.
Attempt to avoid eating unplanned snacks during the day. Try making a rule such as only eating when sitting down. This can help you reduce mindless eating while chatting with colleagues, or cut down on high calorie canapés at parties.
Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, meaning we can reach for the biscuits instead of the water bottle. Remember to drink at least 1.6 litres of water each day, so keep a bottle on you, or a glass at your desk so you can monitor how much fluid you are drinking.
Try to be physically active, and earn your treats. All too often we sit on our bottoms for the majority of the Christmas period. Why not try taking a festive walk, or hit the gym while it’s empty at this time of the year.
Alcohol is high in calories, so it’s easy to blow your daily energy intake with a few Christmas drinks. Try adding ice to your drink to reduce the calories, or ask for a spritzer which is often lower in calories.
Be selective at the buffet table. It is all too easy to start at one end of the buffet table and get to the other with a full plate and a cheeky sausage roll already in your mouth. So in preparation, scan the spread before you select. This way you can be sure to make healthier choices as you go along.
Eat your greens
Sometimes it’s hard to resist the roast potatoes and other festive fatty carbohydrate. So try to fill at least a third of your plate with vegetables, and swap roast potatoes for parsnips or even sweet potatoes. Or avoid roasting your tatties in unhealthy fats like goose fat, instead try healthy fats like rapeseed oil which is higher in mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Pass the cream
Pudding such as Christmas Pudding are relatively high in fruit and low in fat. Help keep it this way by avoiding pouring cream or full fat custard. Instead serve it with low fat custard or yoghurt.
Clear the table
With family and friends over for dinners, it is easy to sit at the table all night picking at the uneaten food. Help your waistline by removing temptation out of harms way and putting the food away once everyone is finished, or move the conversation to a different room.
Treats should be treats
It’s easy to accidentally eat a whole tub of festive chocolates in one sitting. Resist the urge by providing a small handful while hiding the rest out the way – out of sight out of mind.
Only stuff the turkey
On Christmas day, only the turkey should be stuffed. It takes 20 minutes for our body to tell our brain that we’ve had enough food, so sit back and relax before heading for seconds, and enjoy a more healthy Christmas.
But most of all don’t worry if you over indulge over the holidays. Apply the principal of 80:20, where you only have to be good 80% of the time, with the remain 20% as treats. We can get back on the healthy wagon come 2017.
Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy Christmas!