How to Enjoy Christmas Without Gaining Unwanted Kilos

Nutrition // Sarah Link // 10 October 2016

Did you know that many Aussies gain 3-5 kilos over Christmas alone, and that on Christmas Day, most eat more than 7000 calories? So instead of walking into the New Year feeling blah, follow the below advice from 12WBT dietitian Lisa Donaldson, and enjoy Christmas (and all the trimmings!) without overdoing it. It is possible! No more post-Christmas lunch food coma for you!

Nibbles

The key here is balance, says Lisa. “To prevent overindulging at lunchtime, have a healthy and filling breakfast that morning. That will ensure you do not arrive ravenously hungry and minimise the likelihood of eating everything in sight! Enjoy a balanced and nutritious breakfast, like two poached eggs with some steamed spinach, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes with a slice of wholegrain toast with a smear of avocado. To minimize ‘overindulging’, take a small plate and fill it with healthy options you will enjoy, along with one or two truly decadent items. Stop at that one plate – no going back for seconds!”

Lunch

We’ve talked before about portion distortion, and Christmas is the perfect time to practise this, says Lisa. “The key is to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrot, asparagus, salad, mushrooms, cauliflower and zucchini. These vegetables are low in calories and will fill you up with great nutrition. Keep the potatoes and starchy vegetables like peas and corn to a quarter of the plate and choose lean meat with all skin/fat/crackling removed. If you are the chef, provide loads of plant foods and you can’t go wrong.”

Dinner (or Second Lunch!)

Christmas Day is usually one meal after the other, but if your main meal is Chrissy lunch, make dinner lighter (or visa versa), suggests Lisa. “Hopefully you eat mindfully at the first meal so that the second meal doesn’t become a problem. The second meal is later in the day so you want to consume foods that don’t provide the body with too much energy that probably won’t get used. Limit your carbohydrates on Christmas evening and instead go for non-starchy vegetables and lean protein – think a large salad and some seafood/lean ham or cold meats. For dessert, opt for something light like freshly sliced fruit with a dollop of natural yoghurt.”

Dessert

Mince tarts, Christmas pudding, trifle, shortbreads…what’s December 25th without treats galore! To make sure you’re going to feel good (and not guilty) on Boxing Day, follow this sweet advice from Lisa: “When it comes to dessert think about what you really want. If you really want trifle, than have it, but have a small serve and eat is slowly. Savour each mouthful and really enjoy your chosen dessert.  Be the last person to finish dessert because you ate it slowly and savoured it.”

The Leftovers

Let’s face it, most of us don’t need to keep eating Christmas leftovers for the next week. If you’re hosting Christmas, package up some leftovers and send them home with friends or family. A great idea is to portion out Christmas dinner into plastic containers – some meat, vegetables, gravy, etc. and pop into the freezer. Ta da! A roast dinner without the hassle. Lisa agrees: “Freeze some of your leftovers, or share them with someone who needs them. Create healthy soups with leftover meats and freeze them for a rainy day.”

Lisa’s Silly Season Survival Tips

1)   Never arrive at a party ravenously hungry. Ensure that during the day you have had three meals and some healthy snacks.

2)   A hangover is not an excuse to avoid exercise. Lessen the intensity and increase the duration (swap a fast run for a long walk).

3)   If drinking alcohol at a party, alternate each alcoholic beverage for a glass of sparkling mineral water.

4)   If you’re entertaining from home, there is no excuse not to have healthy options on hand. Provide summer fruit platters, seafood platters, crudités with hummus & tzatziki, lean meat, salads and grilled vegies.

5)   Don’t stand near the buffet! Mindless eating may occur, especially if you’ve been drinking.

6)   Avoid bowls laden with salted crisps and sugary lollies.

7)   If you’re in charge of organizing the work Christmas party, why not make it an active one? Head to the beach or park for some volleyball, frisbee or cricket. Pack healthy hampers and sunblock!

8)   If the room is spinning when you get home from a party, drink at least two glasses of water to rehydrate.

9)   Cheese and crackers are NOT a meal. You are best to have a meal that includes lean protein, salad and vegetables.

10) If hosting a party, provide loads of non-alcoholic options. Lime and soda water, vegetable juices and iced water with sliced citrus fruit.

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