Avoid piling on the pounds throughout the festive season with our guide to eating sensibly this Christmas.
It’s an all too common problem that when the cold weather sets in, we tend to want to eat the stodgiest food we can get our hands on. From roast dinners, steaming hot puddings, mince pies and Christmas cake, it’s no wonder the average Briton gains 5-10lbs over the Christmas period.
Eating more throughout these chilly months is natural. The colder your body becomes the more energy it uses to keep warm. However, the difference in energy needed between the summer and winter months is nominal, so this is no excuse to go for that second helping of Christmas pudding and brandy butter.
However, no one wants to consciously diet at Christmastime, so it’s simply about sticking to sensible choices over this food-filled period to avoid piling on any extra pounds (however, an incy wincy bit of self-willpower may be required).
Trim Down on your Trimming
Luckily, most Christmas dinners are packed with nutrients thanks to them containing turkey and a wide range of vegetables. In fact, a 90g serving of skinless turkey breast contains just 140 calories and its protein content can actually boost your metabolism and leave you feeling fuller for longer – making you less likely to delve into that gigantic tin of chocolates. But all the extra trimmings can quickly tot up the calories, so watch out for chipolatas, sausage stuffing, meat gravy and hidden oils and butter. Stick to a safe and colourful array of veggies to fill up your plate. And, if you can’t resist Christmas pudding – have just a small serving, as the average 100g portion contains a massive 330 calories along with 11.8g of fat (and that’s not even taking into account the cream or brandy butter).
Know your Nibbles
More often than not, it’s the festive between-meal-nibbles that pile on the pounds rather than the meals themselves. Gaining 1lb of fat is as easy as eating around 70 chocolates from a selection tin – that’s equal to a whopping 3,500 calories. So don’t be tempted to stock up on too many festive foods before Christmas starts, you’ll simply start eating them earlier and risk having lots of goodies leftover once Christmas has passed. Try out low fat versions of your favourite crisps and dips, no one will know the difference and it could save you a pound or two on the scales. You could even have a go at making your own mince pies with filo pastry. It’s lower in calories and fat than other pastry, plus you’ll use less of it. If you don’t like filo pastry, why not make mince tarts instead, leaving the short crust pastry lid off, saving you around 50 calories per pie.
Beware of Buffet the Diet Slayer
Buffets can potentially annihilate your diet with so many tempting treats on offer and usually no one around to control your portions. So, if you’re going to a party with a spread have a light snack beforehand, as this should stop you from hungrily picking at cocktail sausages and sampling cheeses all evening. In fact, the easiest way to control the amount you eat from a buffet is to fill your plate just once and then move away from the food. Choose carefully, avoiding pastry items such as sausage rolls, spring rolls and quiche. Also steer clear of anything that has been fried. Skipping the garlic bread, crisps and dips will also save you a load of calories. Instead opt for sliced meats, fish, salads (minus the mayo), breadsticks, salsa and perhaps a couple of small slices of pizza.
While plenty of booze will help Christmas social events go with a swing, it will do nothing to keep your waistline in shape, so be aware of what you are drinking. Watch out for new trendy ciders served in glasses holding more than a pint and those huge glasses of vino, as they often hold close to half a bottle of wine, which contains around 250 calories. You should also try to avoid alcopops as they are loaded with calories. Although some brands have brought out ‘diet’ versions, they still have high sugar content. Creamy cocktails are also a big no no, with just one 37ml shot of Baileys containing 129 calories alone. Cut calories by mixing wine or spirits with diet soft drinks and asking for single rather than double measures.
This season it’s all about making the right choices; Christmas is ultimately about indulgence and having fun, so try not to let your diet hamper your enjoyment too much. After all, most of us will be renewing that gym membership come January anyway.