Here’s how to indulge without the bulge
Nothing beats a warming glass of mulled wine or a sugar-laden mince pie at Christmas. But with so many delectable treats on show, it can be difficult to keep track of the festive calorie count.
With the average Briton munching their way through an extra 3000 calories on Christmas day, it’s no surprise we’re gaining up to 4lbs over the Christmas week. While the majority of us are happy to offset our seasonal scoffing with a virtuous January health kick, the truth is it could take up to four months to completely banish that yuletide bulge, if you ever do!
A survey of 1000 people by diet company Forza Supplements revealed that 34% of Brits wouldn’t finish shifting the extra pounds until Easter, while a further 11% would never lose the weight completely. That means they could be adding more than 20lbs to their frame over a decade!
So next time you grab for the chocolate tin, you might want to bear in mind the consequences of your Christmas cravings. It doesn’t take much to shave off those superfluous calories, and with our simple tips you can still enjoy the foodie festivities without the belt-busting after effects.
Guarding against the Christmas weight creep is no easy feat, especially when you consider the average Brit glugs 40% more alcohol during December. As difficult as it may be to pass off the Christmas tipple, there are ways to avoid going overboard - or even worse - looking like a Scrooge.
With only 0.5 % trace, dealcoholised wine is the perfect solution to cut down on the calories and avoid a thumping headache the next morning. It tastes exactly the same as your usual bottle, but in the last stage of fermentation process the alcohol is almost completely extracted. In fact, so minute is the trace left behind that you'd have to drink 35 glasses in 15 minutes for your body to register one unit.
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With so many over-processed temptations available at Christmas, it's all too easy for our systems to become clogged up with artificial nasties. As Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, editor of foodsmatter.com, says, "There's nothing wrong with gluten, wheat and dairy, but people eat far too much of it in too many over-processed forms!"
It's bad for our health and wellbeing; so to redress the balance Michelle recommends choosing 'free from' alternatives for traditional Christmas recipes.
"When it comes to stuffings, don't think breadcrumbs, think quinoa or rice cooked as a pilaff with vegetables, nuts and herbs," Michelle says. "If you are worried it will fall apart, bind it with an egg."
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Nothing sends cholesterol levels through the roof quite like Christmas, so save yourself the heart-clogging worry by instigating a few simple changes.
"Leave the butter in the fridge, and try using coconut oil for basting," suggests Michelle. "I also love drizzling my Christmas pudding and mince pies with dairy-free, coconut yoghurt. It's such a delicious, light alternative to the over-rich and sickly taste of brandy butter."
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Unfortunately, when it comes to portion control the plates are stacked against us as studies show the average meal size has increased by 30% since the 1980s. Avoid overloading your plate by sticking to the following proportions:
- Pasta and rice = fist-sized portion
- Protein = palm-sized portion (not including your fingers!)
- High-fat foods (e.g. cheese) = thumb-sized portion
- Vegetables = Have as many as you like.
- Potatoes = One regular-sized spud. If you're having mashed, follow the guide for pasta.
- Take the pastry top off your mince pie: 80 kcal
- Add handful of ice to your wine glass before pouring: 80 kcal
- Remove the skin from your turkey: 50 kcal
- Make your G&T with slimline tonic: 40 kcal
- Take one less roast potato than usual: 100 kcal
- Have your Christmas pudding with Greek yogurt instead of cream: 310 kcal
For the ideal Christmas lunch, stick to:
- 50% vegetables, such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and green beans
- 40% protein, such as turkey or beef
- 10% treats, such as yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets, stuffing, roast potatoes and gravy.
Tip: Load up your plate with the veg first before moving on to protein, and then the 'bad' stuff. This way, you're more likely to stick to it.
- Hide the treats! Keeping snacks covered or even out of reach will encourage you to eat less.
- Don't snack in front of the TV. We can eat an extra 300 calories when we're sat watching TV.
- Keep your fork in your 'wrong' hand at a buffet. It'll slow down your ability to load your plate.
- Blow out your candles. Researchers in California found that we eat more in dimly lit rooms.
- Beware huge wine glasses: Drinking out of a smaller wine glass will reduce your intake of calories.
- Swap a serving of Baileys (180 kcals) for A glass of Champagne (110 kcals)
- Swap 2 sausages on sticks (130 kcals) for 2 chicken satay pieces (50 kcals)
- Swap a mince pie (240 kcals) for a slice of Yule log (186 kcals)
- Swap 30g Stilton (130 kcals) for 30g Camembert (90 kcals)
- Swap a handful of Pringles (280 kcals) for a handful of Twiglets (190 kcals)
Take the edge off your hunger and fill up before a party so you don't over eat. We recommend snacking on one of the below:
- 6 walnuts
- 12 almonds
- 20 peanuts
- Wholemeal toast and peanut butter
- Boiled egg
We often mistake thirst for hunger too. Drink enough water before a meal or party to feel full. This will also ensure you don't drink wine to quench your thirst, which will lower your willpower towards unhealthy food.