1. Burn off those extra calories before you indulge! Commit to a long daily brisk walk a few days leading up to Christmas Day. Or spend an extra half hour at the gym, or simply watch an hour less of TV. Anything that is measurable and gets you moving more than you would normally will help you to get into a calorie deficit. You could also start the day with an energising walk on Christmas morning, which could help you feel less guilty as the day progresses!
2. Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters are more likely to manage their weight well. Make your first meal of the day a filling one – you could try a warming spicy cinnamon porridge topped with some sliced banana, or a couple of slices of granary toast smothered in peanut butter and cranberry jelly.
3. Allow yourself a snack mid-morning if you’re hungry. Tackling your Christmas dinner with a ravenous appetite can mean you eat quickly just to satisfy your hunger and before you know it, you could have munched your way through 1000 calories. So, have a snack an hour or two before the feast. Try a handful of nuts, some roasted chestnuts (the only low fat nut in existence), some yogurt mixed with granola or a soothing mug of hot chocolate made with semi-skimmed milk.
4. Enjoy your meal. How often have you got through Christmas dinner, feeling stuffed and lethargic, and not really been aware of how quickly you got to that stage? Be conscious of what you’re eating, how much you’re eating, the food’s flavour, texture, smell, colour, and so on. The more you savour your meal slowly, the less likely you will be to overeat, because eating slower allows time for the signals from your stomach to register that you’re full.
5. Fill up your plate with the lower calorie foods first. This year, try to be aware of the filling lower calorie choices in your festive feast. Steamed carrots, sautéed Brussels sprouts, peas, and turkey breast without the skin should find their way onto your plate first. Then you’ll have less space for the roast potatoes and buttered parsnips.
6. Make your potatoes bigger so they absorb less fat. And choose the biggest ones when you serve yourself – they will fill up your plate more and will have more carbs and less fat. Weight for weight, pure fat has twice the calories of pure carbs.
7. Portion size is a no-brainer. You can enjoy everything on offer if you are aware of your quantities. Allow yourself a little of everything so you don’t feel deprived, yet you’ll still be cutting those calories.
8. Don’t loosen your belt! You might be tempted to wear loose fitting clothes or move your belt down a notch during your spate of indulgence, but if you wear something that is nicely fitted, you’ll have nowhere to go. Over-doing it will lead to discomfort and that in itself might be a good way to minimise your growing waistline.
9. Choose white meat instead of dark meat. Roast turkey leg meat has, on average, 6.6% fat and grilled turkey breast has on average only 1.7% fat. You get around 150 calories in a 100g/4oz portion of cooked turkey breast.
10. If you’ve left room for dessert, drink a glass of water beforehand and choose a smaller bowl with a teaspoon. Your dessert will last longer and you’ll be tricking your brain into thinking you’re having a whole bowlful of pudding! Or try a larger portion of a yummy but lighter dessert, like our Flambé Bananas in Brandy.
By Azmina Govindji RD MBDA, Consultant Nutritionist & Registered Dietitian