This time of year is all about the food. Christmas parties, treats in the workplace, get-togethers with neighbours, special meals with families ….. it’s lovely, but it’s also a time when people worry about how they will get though the festive period without unwanted weight gain and a constant hangover!
The winter has always been a time of year when a festival is needed to lift the spirits and give us something to look forward to through the cold and gloomy weather. So we don’t want it spoiled by guilt! It doesn’t have to mean a choice between all-out gluttony or miserable self-denial. Here are my top five strategies for maximum enjoyment with just a little damage-limitation.
1.Watch out for small treats and snacks
Really enjoy all of your Christmas meals, including party evenings … but resist the temptation to constantly “pick” at all those chocolates, nuts, crisps, etc in between. As I go from ward to ward in the hospital, it would be so easy to mindlessly accept a couple of sweets on each. The nurses have endless boxes of chocolates from grateful relatives under their noses throughout the shift. It’s so easy to pop one in your mouth every now and then …. and never realise you have had 10 or 12 by the end of the day! 10 “Quality Street” type chocolates is well over 400 calories It’s easier just to give yourself a blanket ban on “nibbles” and instead keep your mind on your party clothes and the lovely dinner you’re going to have that night, or the brunch with friends tomorrow …. Guilt free!
2. Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
Be aware of what you’re drinking. Both alcoholic and soft drinks can contain a lot of calories. Don’t go out thirsty! I’m a “gulper” so I always have a pint of blackcurrant and soda alongside an alcoholic drink or the alcohol will go down way too fast! The standard advice is to have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink but I find that too tedious … a blackcurrant and soda is tastier so tends to get actually consumed! Ask for diet versions of mixers such as cola and tonic water.
3. Don’t go out hungry
This is an oldie but a goodie. Party / restaurant food tends to be higher in fat and sugar than “home-cooked” food, so if we are hungry and eat quickly, we can do an awful lot of damage very quickly! Have something simple and filling like a bowl of soup and some fruit, or a few oatcakes and a pot of yoghurt. Then you can savour your party food and not feel the need to hoover up the buffet table! When out – focus on your friends, on the company, the conversation, and the atmosphere. Don’t make it all about eating and drinking!
4. Try not to buy every tempting food you see in the supermarket
I know they are beautiful and enticing ….. stollen, panettone, lebkuchen, mince-pies, chocolates, toffees, sweets, crisps, nuts and canapés of every possible description ….. but realistically we really can’t – and shouldn’t – have everything. You know you’ll only be complaining by January 2nd that you always buy too much!!
5. Walk it off
It’s inevitable that we will eat more than usual. That’s what this time of year is all about – and has been throughout the centuries! Enjoy it! Try to off-set some of the extra calories by taking a little extra exercise. Walking outdoors will get you out of house (no need to explain why some of us might need to get out of the house sometimes over the Christmas period!), burn off calories, lift the mood and give you sense of achievement.
Enjoy the next couple of weeks! I promise no more “nagging” in my next post, which will be “in praise of Christmas dinner” and a look at what a Dietitian eats at Christmas!
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