Christmas dinner…we all love it but probably hate that sluggish food coma we’re left with after from overloading our plates. Although we enjoy overindulging, it’s all about balance. Christmas dinner can still be guilt-free and actually includes a lot of nourishments.
Nutritionist Lily Soutter has come up with some helpful tips to get the balance right over the festive period, ones that our waistlines will thank us for…
- Start your day the right way
Set yourself up for success by having a healthy but hearty breakfast – and don’t forget to include protein!
Research has shown that those who eat breakfast tend to have a more of a balanced diet, are less likely to be overweight, lose weight more successfully and are less likely to snack unnecessarily.
One study has also shown that participants who consumed good quality protein at breakfast stayed ‘fuller for longer’, which in turn prevented overeating later on in the day.
*PRESS breakfast smoothie
*Boiled eggs & wholegrain toast
*Porridge topped with a dollop of almond butter
*Avocado on toast, topped with spiced chickpeas
*Low sugar granola & fresh figs
*Greek yoghurt with seeds and berries
- Fill your plate with festive winter veg
It’s easy to eat a 400-calorie mince pie within seconds, but not so easy to eat 400 calories worth of veg quite so quickly – you’d be stuffed!! Vegetables are a rich source of fibre, which can help to keep hunger at bay.
Fill at least half of your plate with festive vegetables and you’ll be guaranteed to have a lower calorie and healthier dish.
Try rainbow coloured winter veg such as vitamin A rich carrots, vitamin C rich broccoli and antioxidant rich beetroot to support immunity.
*Give your veg a twist by adding festive spices and cold-pressed oils
*Try warming vegetable based soups, casseroles and stew
*Try roasted root vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil
- Don’t shy away from the turkey
Turkey may be a perfect festive choice when it comes to weight management. This lean meat is low in calories and is a source of good quality protein. Research suggest that protein may help to stave of hunger and maintains that all-important fat burning muscle mass.
It’s also rich in tryptophan, the precursor to our happy hormone serotonin! The happier we are the more satisfied we tend to feel.
*Don’t let left overs go to waste, try turkey salads, burgers, stews and soups
4. Opt for roast potatoes with health benefit
By roasting your potatoes in extra-virgin olive you can maximize health benefits without compromising on flavour.
By swapping saturated fats such as goose fat, butter, lard and ghee with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, you may be one step closer to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and better heart health.
5. Get inventive with your canapés and always line your stomach
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a canapé or two, it’s important to note that they tend to be high in calories and fat, without being particularly filling. If you’re worried about your waistline, attending parties starving hungry may be a recipe for disaster.
Try consuming a small meal or snack before parties to line your stomach. You can also experiment with homemade healthy canapés, meaning you can snack away without the worry of piling on the pounds.
*Try hummus, bean dips & guacamole with crudités
*Spinach & artichoke dip with crudités
*Prawns on skewers
*Mackerel & avocado pate
*Grilled chicken skewers
*Roasted chestnut mushrooms
*Unsalted spiced nuts
6. Enjoy a drink…but choose wisely
Cocktails and beer are the most likely culprits for weight gain due to their high calorie content.
For a lower calorie beverage try a clear spirit (vodka/gin) with a no sugar mixer (sparkling water) and a squeeze of lemon or lime.
With only 70-90 calories per glass and zero sugar, this is a top choice for those aiming for balance.
7. Double weight loss with a food diary
A study of 1,700 people showed that food diaries may actually double weight loss! The simple act of writing down what you eat can encourage you to be more mindful with your food choices.
*Try recording food intake on a Post-It note, take pictures on your phone, record on the notes section on your phone, send yourself text messages or keep a record on an app.
8. Learn the art of mindful eating
Meal times shouldn’t be a race to the finish line. Take your time to chew, put your fork down between each bite. Savour the flavours to give your brain time to register your hunger and fullness cue.
Mindful eating may increase pleasure and satisfaction from the food we eat, which can lead to eating fewer calories throughout the day.
9. Comfort eat the healthy way
During the winter months, there is a tendency to gravitate towards carb heavy, high calorie meals to make us feel warm and cosy. Filling up on refined carbohydrates such as white rice, bread, pasta, cakes and pastries may reduce fibre intake and lead blood sugar imbalances. Both can set up a cycle, which keeps appetite in motion.
However, there’s no need to cut carbs during winter, the key is to choose carbs with health benefits. Wholegrains such as brown rice, bread and pasta are a great source of fibre – an important factor for balancing blood sugar and keeping hunger at bay. Whilst root vegetables, beans, lentils and chickpeas are low in calories, nutrient dense AND can satisfying those stodgy carbe cravings.
10. Book in your Boxing Day walk
Wrap up warm and organise a boxing day walk, not only is this a great time to bond and de-stress after the Christmas hype, it will also help to boost metabolism and burn off extra calories.