It’s party season again! Christmas is the most magical and enjoyable time of the year! But the glum downside is gaining a bit of weight. Still, there is no reason why good health and good times have to roll in opposite directions. Get the formula right and let the good times, and good health, come your way together. So, how to avoid putting on extra weight and have a great time?
Some planning can help cut unwanted Christmas calories. If you are going out in the evening, start the day with a generous bowl of porridge topped with a handful of cranberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. A breakfast like this will stabilise your blood sugar levels and control your appetite later in the day. Keep eating fresh fruit, vegetables and some probiotic yogurt during the day, which will help boost your immunity as well as neutralise some negative effects of party foods, too much alcohol and not enough sleep.
On the day of a big night out, as well as the day after, make sure that you drink two to three litres of water, plenty of herbal tea and freshly prepared juice. Even mild dehydration can lead to a headache and combined with the diuretic effects of alcohol makes maintaining your fluid intake important.
When you arrive at a party hungry, it is impossible to resist having the canapés or other party snacks. So, do not go to a party with an empty stomach. You can eat something small and light before to keep your hunger under control, for example, a small yogurt with a sliced banana. The yogurt’s protein slows stomach emptying, which helps delay the effects of that first glass of wine while the potassium-rich banana helps balance any increase in your salt intake – especially helpful if you are apt to nibble (or let’s face it, gorge) on olives, crisps or salted nuts. This type of snack makes it much easier to resist round after round of snacking on high calorie party food.
Watch you portion sizes. If you know that you cannot stop yourself from finishing all the food in front of you, then use a small plate instead of a dinner plate – you are sure to eat less and you can still sample all the different foods without guilt and even enjoy a dessert. By limiting the variety of food you take you can control your appetite. Put only two different items on your plate when you go to the buffet. Limit high fat dishes such as fried food, cream-based soup, cheese-filled casseroles, pies and processed meatssuch as salami and sausages. Choose fresh fish or seafood instead of roast red meat.
Another simple trick is to fill your plate up with vegetables first so there is less room for the more energy dense food.
Vegetables will keep you full and are packed with vitamins and minerals, especially if not overcooked. Brussels sprouts, for example, are a good source of vitamin C and folate; and they also provide fibre needed to keep the gut healthy. When cooking a roast, combine potatoes with other root vegetables such as beetroot, parsnips, and carrots; and use olive oil, sunflower or rapeseed oil. Although still high in calories these fats contain only a fraction of saturated fats. If you cut the potatoes into large pieces these absorb less fat than smaller ones.At the end of the day try to leave the table still feeling comfortable.
And of course, stay physically active during the holidays. Parties are much more than just food and drinks – delight in the traditions of the season and enjoy the company of family and friends. Plan your party well in advance. Organize games and activities and even take your guests for a nice walk after dinner.
Focus on the spirit of the season and do the most important thing – enjoy yourself.Let this year Christmas be different but just as tasty! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Irina Schirov, Scientific consultant, nutrition & health professional inspiring healthy living