The supermarket shelves are in full blown Halloween mode which means one thing… christmas is around the corner! With the festive time upon us the next few months for many will involve excessive eating and drinking. The chocolates become daily regulars in the office, another day another christmas party and your dearest friend starts dropping by with homemade mince pies (“How can you say no?”). Soon enough every day is a splurge day. BUT along with the nights out and parties there is the “what shall I wear?” dilemmas. “Will last year’s dress/trousers still fit?”.
The magazines echo our thoughts and the columns start to read “Little Black Dress challenge”, “Trim up for your tuxedo” to help those who are wanting to shift a few pounds before the Christmas blow out.
So can you have your prosecco without it popping your buttons? How can you stop those mince pies from messing with your weight? Here are some simple weight loss tips to help you enjoy the festivities without feeling like a stuffed turkey:
Skipping meals to save up for liquid calories
We can all see how this is going to end up. Missing meals so you can get drunk quicker or have a “big session” without gaining weight is dangerous, unhealthy and counter-productive to any weight loss goals! You will likely arrive at the party, walk past the host, ignore your friends and colleagues and head straight for the bar nuts (yes those germ-infested nuts you promised you would never eat again)…Or you'll quickly gulp down a couple of drinks out of hunger – a recipe for disaster!
Eating before you drink slows down the absorption of alcohol and suppresses those hunger pangs. Drinking on an empty stomach will see your appetite soar and mindful eating go out the window; will see a huge stuffed crust pizza in your hands on the way home and an angry hangover the next day (with more unhealthy food choices).
What to do: Eat regular meals throughout the day: breakfast, lunch and a small afternoon snack if eating out later or a small main meal if just out for drinks. Include low Glycaemic Index foods (for slow release energy) and protein (to keep you feeling full for longer). Good meal and snack ideas include chicken stir fry and brown rice, small baked sweet potato with tuna and sweetcorn, lentil and vegetables soup or eggs/peanut butter or mashed avocado on wholegrain toast. If you are a cereal queen like me greek yogurt with granola and or old fashioned porridge oats with chopped nuts are great choices.
Police your portion
It’s all too easy to over-indulge if you are faced with abundant opportunities to eat including more frequent dinner parties or more biscuits in the office. So portion sizes need to be policed. If you want that hot mince pie and brandy butter, eat a smaller portion at your main meal. Or do like I do and get your husband to order his pudding with TWO spoons (this does not mean eat your pudding AND share his)!
Don’t get caught out with canapes! You are chatting away, enjoying the atmosphere and before you know it you have consumed 3 vol au vents, 4 spring rolls and 2 smoked salmon tartlets. MOVE AWAY from the canape table or take 1 one, miss one to keep the calories in check.
Move move move
Help combat the extra calories by moving more and I don’t just mean on the dancefloor (although dancing is a great calorie burner!!). The Department of Health recommend 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per day, 5 days a week for heart health. Can you get a quick walk in at lunchtime? Suggest a power walk catch up instead of coffee and cake? Get off the bus one stop earlier?
Every little helps.
Tot up your tipple
Alcohol contains 7kcals per gram (protein and carbohydrate = 4kcals/g, fat= 9kcals/g) so regular drinking will contribute to weight gain (and that’s without the extra food eaten). A large glass of wine has the same calories as a piece of cake, a pint of beer the same as a slice of pizza. Still planning that 2nd or 3rd glass?
What to do?
- Try to avoid rounds so you can drink at your own pace (saving money and calories!)
- Pace and space! Savour the taste, drink slower and alternate with a soft drink.
- Trade in your tipple for a lower calorie one (and in some cases less alcohol too):
- SWAP 175ml white wine (159kcals) FOR 125ml prosecco (90kcals) SAVE 65 calories
- SWAP double measure Baileys (176kcals) FOR single measure Tia Maria with diet coke SAVE 116 calories
- SWAP regular strength pint of beer (182kcals) FOR 330ml bottle strong lager (142kcals) SAVE 40 calories
I don’t want to be a party pooper! Christmas is a magical time to share with your family and friends and of course enjoy your food and drink. Simple changes can ensure you enjoy the celebrations without the calorie baggage afterwards. If you have any tips to get through the festive season, please share.