Do you eat healthily at Christmas? If you are like me you l tend to overeat at Christmas - it is human weakness. We celebrate Christmas Day with family and friends and enjoy time together by eating a sumptuous meal together, everyone adding their special treat. Nibbles, seafood, turkey, ham, pork followed by Pavlova, Xmas pudding, Xmas cake and of course chocolates are some of the things my family delight in on Xmas day. And not to mention the over-indulgence in champagne, beer and other sugary drinks.
But if you are worried about bingeing on Christmas Day, and splitting your Santa suit, fear not, because here are some tips to help curb those cravings.
1) Eat a healthy breakfast but make it special
I always offer my family a selection of delicious Xmas treats such as cherries, raspberries, yogurt croissants and delicious toast and eggs done whichever way they like. They are allowed to choose a chocolate Santa to curb their need for a sugar. Have it available as the presents are being opened so everyone eats as they are indulging themselves with gifts. Encourage everyone to take one plateful only and to then wait until Xmas lunch is served to eat again. It is the constant nibbling all morning that is the link to unhealthy eating on Xmas day.
2) Watch what you eat, not count the calories on Xmas Day
When eating Christmas dinner, watch what you eat rather than count the calories which will be out of kilt with your diet anyway. Many foods served on Xmas Day are high in energy - dense foods which we all love to eat. If you want to eat healthily, the key is not to restrict yourself to just the blandest options and be miserable, but to combine your reasonable portions of your favourite delicious energy-dense foods with tasty foods lower in energy such as salads.
You can eat what you like at Xmas dinner but balance it out. For example fill half your plate with non-starchy salads or vegetables like broccoli, carrot, asparagus, salad, mushrooms, cauliflower and zucchini. These vegetables are low in calories and will fill you up with great nutrition. Feel free to heed the call of the roast potatoes etc, but keep these and other starchy veges such as corn on the cob and peas to a quarter of the plate.
Fill the final quarter of your plate with protein, such as turkey and ham. Choose skin-free options but that does mean removing the pork crackling!. To jazz it up, add some cranberry sauce or teaspoon of gravy. but definitely not gravy boat full!
3) Savor Your Dessert
Dessert is always the best thing about Xmas dinner, but the sugar levels and the calories are very high. So it is best to take a small portion of what you like best and stick to that. Or at least take one or two really decadent items and enjoy them. If you want trifle and Xmas pudding then have it, but have a small serve and eat it slowly so that you can really savour it.
4) Treat leftovers with respect
One of the things that causes us to overeat ant Xmas is leftovers! You end up picking at things you love and before you know it you’ve clocked up the calorie equivalent of a second main meal. We tend to overeat more on Xmas night and on Boxing Day because there is an endless supply of yummy foods are not usually available to us on tap.
After Xmas dinner if you feel like eating again, consume foods that don’t provide the body with too much energy that probably won’t get used by the body late at night! 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.
Don’t eat the Xmas leftover food for the hell of it, or out of fear of wasting it. Instead, turn uneaten portions into fresh meals, eg create healthy soups, casseroles and salads with leftover meats and veges.
It is a good idea to freeze Xmas dinner left overs so that the temptation is removed. This is the key to preventing Boxing Day overeating, rather than leaving them ready-to-eat in the fridge.You can turn the leftovers into a delicious wholesome meal at a later date.
Over the Xmas break it is easy to forget your exercise regime, and have a lovely little nana nap after eating Xmas pudding! But what goes in has to go somewhere, so if you do not exercise to get rid of some of that energy guess what - it will turn into fat like our Santa here. Now I am not saying to do your normal routine, but Xmas is the time for family activities, like a game of cricket on the back lawn or a swim if you are lucky enough to live down under like me. Or a walk in the park, ice skating or a slide in a sledge where you are experiencing the cold and snow.
Christmas comes but once a year and it is a day you should be able to eat what you want, but then there’s Xmas night and Boxing Day. And if you skip breakfast because of the excitement of Santa's presents, by lunchtime too much turkey and fruitcake are going to taste good. But that is not the problem all the food you eat in between meals on Xmas day that spell trouble. Nibbling at chocolates and lollies and everything else on offer is often irresistible on Xmas Day.
And on the day after it is the constant picking at leftovers which causes us to overeat and put on extra weight. Don't split your Santa suit, eat healthily and exercise this Xmas.