Minimising the Christmas Diet Damage

Minimising the Christmas Diet Damage

Keeping on track with staying healthy, fit and not piling on the pounds over Christmas is a challenge in itself as there are sooo many temptations!

Whether it’s a party invite, another meal out or the extra tins of biscuits and chocolates that find their way into the office over the festive period, there seems to be food everywhere! We all want to have fun at Christmas, but no one wants to put on weight. So how do you manage to minimise the damage that the festive season can cause to your diet?

  1. Have a Healthy breakfast

Eating a good breakfast will set you up for the day and hopefully encourage you to continue to eat healthily for the rest of the day.  Go for a healthy breakfast such as porridge, wholegrain toast, eggs and avocado or Greek yoghurt with fruit.  Having a filling breakfast means you’re less likely to over indulge later on in the day.

  1. Keep moving

You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym but staying active can help combat those extra calories.  Go for a walk, get on the dance floor, do a short blast of a home workout.  Exercise will not only burn calories, but it’s a great stress buster too, plus sometimes going for a walk is a good excuse to get out of the house for a bit of peace and quiet!

  1. Think before you eat

We all love a few festive treats, but do you really need to eat all the mince pies ‘Just because it’s Christmas?’.  You don’t need to deny yourself everything, but make sure that you’re really enjoying what you’re eating and not scoffing it just because it’s there!

  1. Food Plan in advance

You don’t have to overfill your fridge with huge amounts of festive food and end up eating it all just so it doesn’t go to waste.  Plan your meals over the holidays and only buy what you’re going to eat.

  1. Sleep well

Missing out on your sleep can also lead to weight gain.  When you are tired, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite.  Try if at all possible, to stick to set bed and wake up times.  Sleep plays a huge role in keeping your body fit and healthy and it’s vital to get plenty if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight.  Don’t underestimate it’s importance.

  1. Eat before you go out

Have a healthy meal before you go out to parties so you won’t arrive hungry.  If there’s a buffet table – sit as far away from it as you can!.  Let’s be honest, there’s very rarely an appetising healthy option on the buffet table and you don’t want to end up stuffing your face with sausage rolls!  Having a pre-drinks healthy meal will also mean you’ll be less likely to stop off at the take-away for a kebab on your way home.

  1. Watch your drinks

Alcoholic drinks and cocktails contain lots of hidden calories and you may be drinking more than usual this over Christmas.  Try to stick to the low-calorie mixers with your spirits and maybe drink water between each alcoholic drink – it will cut down on the hangover too!

  1. Don’t pick at food

When there’s food everywhere, it’s all too easy to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, thinking it’s not going to make that much difference.  But it adds up over the day.  Keep mindful of those little bits and try to avoid snacking, unless its healthy food.

  1. Enjoy the Christmas feast

If you eat healthily most of the time and you’re keeping up with your usual workouts, you can let go a bit on Christmas day! One unhealthy meal won’t make you fat just as one healthy meal won’t make you slim – it’s all about BALANCE.  But if you really want to avoid too many extra calories on the day itself, fill up on the healthy options such as vegetables and lean turkey so you won’t feel the need to over-eat the more indulgent treats.

  1. Learn to say No

If you don’t really want to eat something, SAY NO!.  Never mind if Auntie Brenda’s spent hours making the cake, or if your sister-in-law keeps topping up your glass of wine.  You really don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to.  Once you get used to saying no, it’s easier than you think.

  1. Know when it’s over

The festive season ends on 1st January.  Draw a line under whatever happened to the diet over Christmas (if it all went pear shaped) and get back to those healthy habits.  The longer you leave it, the harder it will be!

Un-processing your Diet

Un-processing your Diet

Recent studies have found that people who eat more processed food, consume about 500 more calories per day than those that eat wholefoods.  Why? Because processed foods provide limited nutrients and are not as filling, so you tend to eat more to feel full and an extra 500 calories per day, can lead to quite a significant weight gain!

It’s quite a big challenge to switch to an entirely whole-foods diet overnight. But you can start to make healthier choices most of the time by making some small, sustainable changes to “unprocess” your diet.

What are Processed foods?

Most packaged foods such as crisps, sweets, chocolate bars and biscuits are considered ultra-processed along with fast food, most take-out food and packaged bakery items, refined grains such as white rice, sugary cereals and white bread also are processed.  However, foods such as canned or frozen vegetables, whole-grain bread and rice, are considered less processed because they are closer to their original forms (and have more nutritional value).

Here are six practical tips to help you make nutritional improvements that will improve your energy, health and fitness, by switching from a processed to wholefood diet, increasing your fibre and protein intake and making you feel fuller without going over your calorie requirements.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

When it comes to foods high in nutrients, fruits and vegetables can’t be beat. They contain fibre (which will make you feel full) and they also aid digestion.

  • Batch chop and prep salad and veg so it’s ready to go.
  • Add a side salad to your meal.
  • Snack on raw vegetables.

2. Avoid sugary drinks.

Fizzy drinks, alcohol, smoothies and canned coffee drinks often contain a surprising amount of sugar and calories. For example, a Costa caramel latte contains a whopping 34g sugar and 331 calories!

  • opt for tea or black coffee in coffee shops.
  • Choose spirits rather than beer or wine.
  • Read labels on smoothies/canned drinks.

3. Read labels.

In most cases food packaging does not give an accurate representation of a food’s nutritional value no matter what the claim on the front of the pack says! so it’s best to look at the nutritional label on the back of the item and check:

  • Serving size.
  • Amount of added sugar.
  • Ingredient list (keeping in mind that ingredients are listed by quantity, with highest listed first).

4. Skip convenience foods when possible.

There are a lot of foods that although marketed as healthy (such as bars or snacks) are often full of sugar and lack fibre and protein. Carry your own snacks to avoid temptation!

  • Nuts or seeds (portioned) and an apple.
  • Chopped veg with hummus.
  • Greek yogurt with fruit.

5. Eat mindfully at restaurants.

Eating out can feel like an occasion to indulge, but if you’re eating out regularly, learning to make healthy choices is essential.

  • If eating out is an infrequent occurrence, order what you love, but stop eating when your full.
  • You don’t have to go for all 3 courses!
  • If eating out is a common occurrence choose a protein and vegetable meal with whole grains as often as possible. Such as:
    • Sandwich on whole-grain bread with salad.
    • Fish, Chicken or Steak served with veg.
    • Salad (dressing on the side).

Small and sustainable changes are much easier and more beneficial in the long run when it comes to improving nutrition, rather than trying to make too many big changes all at once but to see a change you’ve got to make a change!