December is one of my favourite times of the year – I love getting together with family, exchanging gifts and popping Christmas crackers. But one of my highlights has to be the dinners and I enjoy indulging myself in a couple of extra slices of cake and my mother’s delicious ham.
It is interesting that many of us are good at watching our diet throughout the year, only to fall off the bandwagon (or in my case leap off) around the festive season.
What is it about this time of the year that causes us to do this?
Perhaps we want to treat ourselves at the end of a busy year, perhaps it is the coming together of friends and family, perhaps we see it as a time to let loose – after all it is the season to be jolly. But we are often left coming into January with a sense of guilt and a renewed determination to lose those extra pounds.
The good news is that we can and should indulge this holiday season and here are a few tips to help you do so.
Avoid snacking – Pre-dinner snacks are often high in fat and sugar. I would suggest you snack on an apple or something small before-hand so you are less likely to feel hungry and spend that first hour nibbling on processed snack foods.
Curb the fizz – It is especially hard to avoid them at dinners and events; and even though we know these sugary drinks are bad for us, sometimes it is just hard to stay away. Carbonated sodas affect our metabolism, our mineral supplies and our blood glucose levels. These sugary drinks also stimulate our appetites, causing us to feel hungrier than we actually are. Opt instead for fresh juice, tea or water.
Portion size – Studies show that we tend to like filling up our plates and the easy solution for this is to pick a smaller plate. When filling your plate, try and opt for protein foods rather than carbohydrates as they will keep you fuller for longer.
Chew – The chewing mechanism gives our body time to recognize that we are full. Spend time chewing and enjoy the flavours of the food –a feast is not an everyday affair.
Move your body – Holiday functions and dinners are a social event, a time to catch up with friends and family; so don’t hover by the table, instead choose to engage with friends or get your groove on the dance floor.
Watch your alcohol – If possible, stay away from cream based alcohol such as eggnog as they contain dairy and sugar. Instead opt for vodka, gin or tequila (portion sizing applies to this too!) I also recommend drinking a glass of water in between – you’ll thank me for it later.
I hope these tips help you; I will be trying them out too! The main thing to take away from this is that it is about feeling good about what you eat. If you are happy with what is on your plate, then enjoy it!
I wish you all a very happy and delicious festive season!