Here are some helpful tips to avoid overeating during the festive season:
Drink a glass of water before you go to a party, and then another glass once you arrive. This should fill you up and prevent overindulging.
Snack on crudités and other vegetables on offer – they are low calorie foods but high in fibre so they keep you satisfied and stave off hunger. The more vegetables you have, the less space there remains for puddings and desserts.
However, it’s impossible to say no to all naughty foods at this time of year – enjoy the festivities, just keep the sweet treats to a minimum.
Don’t eat mindlessly, just because the next tray of snacks has been brought around. Ask yourself whether you actually want to eat it. If you are in a restaurant, don’t tuck into the bread basket or pick at the nibbles, because you will eat the whole lot before you even know it. Vegetable or meat broth soup is a good first course as it will curb your appetite and reduce your further calorie intake during the next courses.
Choose turkey, lean meat or fish with lots of non-starchy vegetables instead of potatoes, rice or cheesy pasta. Lean protein is a fat burner while carbohydrates, unless they are spent as energy, will be turned into fat by your liver and stored round your waist for a ‘rainy day’. If it’s a buffet style meal, take half the amount of food you would normally have and don’t go back for seconds, especially so if you have another party to go to later on that day.
Watch what and how much you drink when it comes to alcohol – it contains no real nutrients your body needs but is full of empty calories. We often forget how calorific alcohol is. For example, two large glasses of white wine will provide you with 20% of your daily recommended calorie intake (370 kcal). Alcohol stimulates appetite and reduces your awareness about overeating. Don’t drink on an empty stomach but opt for healthier snacks while drinking. Alternating an alcoholic drink with a glass of water will help prevent dehydration. Take small sips, make your drink last and don’t be shy to avoid topping up your glass. You don’t have to drink or eat excessively just because others do.
Enjoy your puddings but make those helpings as small possible. Most desserts are sugary and will cause a blood sugar rush, quick insulin release, blood sugar dip and more sugar craving – so the sweet roller coaster goes on, if you are not careful with your dessert portion sizes.
Don’t forget that social occasions are not only about food but mainly about people. Make it a priority to catch up with your old friends as well as make new acquaintances, and food will be shifted into the background.
Holidays are the time to increase your daily exercise by at least half an hour. Think of ways to keep active – take your dog out for an extra walk, play outdoor games with your children, show your guests around the neighbourhood after lunch, dance to your heart’s content after dinner. Go for a brisk walk or a jog in the morning after a party – this will clear your head as well as burn off some unwanted calories.
You don’t have to attend every single party you’ve been invited to. Pick and choose. Decide which ones you have to go to, which ones you actually want to go to and which ones you may skip.
It’s not so much the Christmas meal – however lavish is the feast – that presents a problem but all the stollen slices, mince pies, chocolates, cheesy bites, alcohol and extra treats in the run up to Christmas. I blame Santa Clauses’ expanding girth entirely on those mince pies and sherries he has to have out of politeness at each and every house he drops in to!
So try to exercise your free will as an educated 21st century adult and have lots of fun without eating and drinking yourself to the ground.
Merry Christmas! And remember – there is always January to start your weight loss and detox regimen!