Why wait until the New Year to start your healthy eating plans? It’s easy to use Christmas as an excuse to over indulge, eating and drinking all you want with a promise to start again in January. On average people consume an extra 4,000 calories on Christmas day alone.
Managing your weight around the festive period is all about damage limitation. Having a healthy Christmas is easier than you think and will leave you feeling slimmer (slightly smug) and healthier for January.
Follow our healthy eating guide and tuck into the turkey without feeling guilty.
Managing the Lead up to Christmas
Having a high calorific Christmas wouldn’t be so bad if it was limited to just one day however, the Christmas period can start as early as mid November with office parties, where free bars and all you can eat buffet’s can be very tempting.
Tempting as it may look, don’t let the buffet ruin your waistline, instead keep the following tips in mind:
- Avoid going out on an empty stomach as this will lead to overeating and is very dangerous when drinking alcohol. Have a healthy snack such as oatcakes and nut butter or yoghurt around 4pm before leaving for the party.
- Do not hover by the buffet, as the saying goes ‘little pickers wear bigger knickers’ instead fill your plate with as much belly filling protein and fibre as possible and sit down to eat.
- Try to stick to any vegetable options such as carrots with hummus and look out for solid protein pieces of chicken and turkey and remove the skin. Any fish on offer is also a good option such as prawns. Avoid anything deep fried or wrapped in pastry like the sausage rolls.
- Do not go back for seconds unless you are genuinely hungry, wait at least 20 minutes after eating to let the brain register that you are full.
If you do choose to drink, try taking milk thistle before and after drinking alcohol to give your liver a helping hand with detoxification. To avoid drinking excess calories stick to low calorie mixers with a clear spirit for the lowest calorie intake such as vodka. Have a glass of water between each drink to try to avoid a hangover.
How to manage a hangover:
We all know the symptoms of a hangover, ranging from exhaustion to headaches and nausea; leaving you hankering after a bacon buttie, which will undo all your good work. Excess alcohol causes blood vessels to swell up, so you get throbbing headaches and blood shot eyes. It can also cause inflammation of the stomach which can make you feel nauseous, and may make you throw up. Alcohol causes dehydration and can leave your blood sugar levels on the floor.
The best way to deal with a hangover would be to prevent it from happening, by drinking lots of water throughout the evening. If a hangover has set in there are steps you can take to help manage the effects. Try to avoid taking an aspirin of ibuprofen as they can make the inflammation in the stomach worse.
It is important to replace lost fluids and electrolytes, try drinking coconut water or a sports drink. It is also important to replace all of the nutrients that alcohol has taken from your body. A healthy cooked breakfast will help you to do this. Have wholemeal toast with your breakfast to give you a boost of B vitamins; B vitamins are important as they help the liver to detoxify. Vitamin C is also vital for detoxification, have roasted tomatoes and a poached egg with mushrooms to supply your body with the vitamins you need to replace.
Remember to drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day to ease the headache, keeping you hydrated.
Your Christmas Day strategy
Christmas day can be a testing time for healthy eating however, your Christmas dinner can be packed full of goodness with seasonal vegetables. Brussels sprouts contain B vitamins which are essential for gut health and can protect your heart.
Cut down on extra fat and calories by following these simple steps:
- Instead of using butter on your vegetables add flavour with herbs and lemon zest
- The skin of the turkey is where most of the fat is. Prick the skin so that it drains and cook it on an upturned dish so that it is not sitting in the fat
- Turkey is a great source of belly filling protein and is low in fat if you take the skin off
- Choose a chestnut or fruit based stuffing rather than sausage meat which is high in saturated fat
- Try baking or having new potatoes boiled instead of roasted potatoes
- For the Christmas dessert swap brandy butter, which is high in fat and calories for custard made with skimmed milk
Above all have a very happy, healthy, merry Christmas!