It’s the festive season, so naturally Christmas parties and celebrations are in full swing. As we gather with family and friends – many for the first time since last Christmas there will be plenty of food, food and probably more food. From turkey and hams to sweet treats and gingerbread houses, Christmas certainly doesn’t disappoint. Christmas doesn’t need to be a time of over indulgence, but you don’t need to miss out on the fun with our guide to beat the Christmas bulge.
It’s no secret that during the December – January period our social calendars fill up as workplaces and schools close for the holidays and we tend to fill up that spare time catching up with friends and family. A typical routine goes out the window – who even has time to meal prep? Unless you’re super organised – it’s no wonder that we tend to overeat which if repeated over many days (or even weeks) can cause sneaky weight gain.
A 2019 survey of more than 2,000 Australians and found that 40% gained weight over Christmas, with an average weight gain of almost 3 kilograms! Of course it doesn’t need to be this way – with a few simple tips and tricks to help you enjoy the festive season and still start the new year wearing the same size clothes as you did in November.
Avoid going out hungry
The trick with parties and functions is to eat something before you go. It is so easy to overindulge, especially if you arrive at your party with a ravenous appetite and a ‘treat time’ attitude!
Prior to heading out, try a snack of low calorie foods that are rich in protein, fibre and water. This combination of nutrients works together to take the edge off your hunger and help you fight the temptations. Slowing down whilst eating also gives your body a chance to digest and feel satisfied. After all, food is there to be enjoyed!
Some examples you could include are:
- A bowl of whole wheat cereal such as special K
- Hummus and veggie sticks
- A cheese and tomato sandwich
- A 200g tub of reduced fat yoghurt
Make party food your friend
Just because a deep fried Camembert is on offer, doesn’t mean you need to try it! Make party food your friend by enjoying these foods: fruit platters, sandwiches or quiches, sushi, dips such as hummus, beetroot, tzatziki or avocado dip with vegetable sticks, pretzels or even rice crackers.
If you struggle with portion sizes, try using an entrée sized plate for your main meal and fill at least half of it with vegetables. Sipping on water in between bites also helps you to feel full and satisfied. Being smart with your food is one way to beat the Christmas bulge.
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that you can’t do any exercise. Sure, you mightn’t be able to go to the gym at your usual time, but instead of using this as an excuse, view it as an opportunity to try new ways of exercising and being active.
Some ideas to try include:
- If you’re away on holidays, going for a walk is the best way to take in your new surroundings. It’s also an inexpensive way to exercise with the whole family. A bonus is you never really know what you’re going to discover when you’re on foot.
- You could also hire the tennis court or swim in the pool at your holiday accommodation. This is an inexpensive way to enjoy quality time with your family without feeling like you’re doing a chore of exercising.
- Setting yourself an achievable challenge is also a great way to stay active and have fun. Many communities have events such as fun runs during this time of year. Look up the local Park Run where you are visiting!
- Schedule in exercise by blocking out some time in your calendar and letting your family know it’s important to you.
- Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, and it could be as simple as using resistance bands, a bike or even a skipping rope.
Eat your veggies
This rule is a year rounder, but what makes a difference during the festive season is ensuring that you include 3 servings of vegetables for lunch and another 3 for dinner. By filling HALF your plate with veggies at each meal it is hard to go wrong. You will nourish your body with low-calorie nutritious foods which are high in fibre – all essential to keep your digestive system moving effectively.
Watch your alcohol intake
Yes, this is a very social time of the year where you may find yourself surrounded by more alcohol than usual. There can be a certain social pressure to drink as a way of showing that you’re enjoying yourself, or you might feel like an outsider if you don’t at least have one glass. Like food, the key with alcohol is moderation – if you enjoy a glass of wine or a beer, then by all means go ahead. Just be mindful that like most party appetizers alcohol is a high calorie food, and it is all too easy to drink a lot of calories. Ideally you should aim for 1-2 standard drinks per occasion, with the maximum limit being no more than 4 standard drinks per occasion.
Of course don’t forget your hydration – make sure you are well hydrated before you go out, and to beat any hangovers you can enjoy our sugar-free BINDILYTE.
Some low-calorie alcohol options to enjoy are:
- Vodka, lime and soda
- Scotch with soda water
- Low alcohol white wine with sparkling water. You can add some seasonal berries for a refreshing flavour.
Relax and Enjoy!
Christmas comes but once a year, so make sure you enjoy it! If you only make special foods and desserts to enjoy on Christmas day, be sure to treasure your treat and enjoy. The key is moderation as one festive day will do no harm, but a few weeks of it certainly will. If you feel like you’ve overindulged you can always use your extra energy up by doing some moderate exercise. It is possible to enjoy the season and beat the Christmas bulge!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas from the team at Bindi Nutrition