Written by Sam Whitaker
10 Top Tips
#1 Don’t Just Eat Junk For The Sake Of It
If you’re out at a family dinner or Christmas party, then I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, eat some Christmas cake, mince pie or a handful of chocolates.
But if you’re just sat in your pyjamas watching Eastenders, then don’t have a tub of celebrations on your knee because hundreds of calories later you’ll end up with a tub of empty wrappers and feeling sick from all the chocolate. There’s a difference in ‘treating yourself’ at Christmas with allowing yourself foods you enjoy and binging on absurd amounts of food because ‘that’s what Christmas is about’.
Avoid the latter.
2. Go On A Mini Diet
In the days leading up to a big meal or party, focus on eating really well and aim to reduce calories.
Not only could you lose a couple of lb’s from your ‘mini diet’ but you will enjoy the meal more because you’ve not been gorging on junk food all week.
When I know I’ve got a party or meal out where I want to allow myself to indulge a little, I will consume fewer calories on the days prior and instead, use them at the party.
So my average calories over the course of the week would be pretty similar to a ‘normal’ week, except I’ve been able to go out and enjoy myself.
3. Pick Your Favourite Course Of A Meal
Pick a course, (starter, main or dessert), and allow yourself to indulge on that one course. Don’t do all 3. Pick which one you fancy the most and have whatever you want. On the other courses, limit yourself to a smaller/less calorie dense serving.
For example, if you love dessert, (and who doesn’t), don’t go crazy with the starter and main course. Skip the mountain of roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and stack of pigs in blankets and instead have meat and plenty of green vegetables.
Then you can enjoy whatever you want for dessert. What’s more, you’ll probably enjoy it more because you won’t be so stuffed from over indulging on the main.
4. Exercise More In The Run Up To Christmas
Not only will you increase your caloric requirements, meaning you’ll be less likely to store the extra calories as fat, but the extra calories might even help you fuel performance improvement or muscle gain. A more short term approach would be to exercise with higher volume the day, or days before, a big meal. This will deplete muscle glycogen so that there is more ‘room’ for the incoming calories to go before they get stored as fat.
However, don’t fall into the trap of excessive exercise out of guilt. That’s not a place anyone should be in.
5. Practise Intermittent Fasting
On the day you know you’ve got party or big meal planned consider intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is basically just going for an extended period of time not eating anything.
So you could skip breakfast and/or eat lighter in the day, sticking to primarily lean protein and veggies, in preparation for your big meal in the evening.
Unless you go completely crazy, you’re unlikely to go over your calorie total for the day in one evening meal.
6. Drink A Pint Of Water 10 Mins Before A Meal
This will reduce any false hunger signals you might get from being thirsty.
It will also take up some space in the stomach and reduce the amount of food you can eat before feeling full.
7. Keep Protein Intake High
Protein, more than other macro-nutrients, will help make you feel full, which again, will reduce the amount of food you will likely eat before you feel full.
Good sources of protein include lean poultry/meats, fish, low fat yoghurt, and whey protein powder.
8. Load Up On The Veggies
Along with protein, high fibre, low caloric density foods like green veggies are a great way to keep yourself full without consuming loads of calories.
As well as including plenty of these on days you’re trying to eat light during the day, going for options with plenty of veggies in your evening meal is also a good option to keep you full & limit the over consumption of calories.
9. Don’t Adopt The ‘Ah Screw It’ Attitude.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you have a little ‘junk’/Christmas food that you might as well eat more, and more because you’ve ruined your diet. That’s just silly.
250kcal from a mince pie or a handful of chocolates will not make you fat. The rest of the tub/pack, however, will.
10. Be Aware Of Liquid Calories.
Alcohol, as well as food, often plays a big part of many Christmas celebrations. Some alcoholic drinks can pack quite the caloric punch.
A pint of lager/cider comes in at over 200kcal. So it doesn’t take many to start racking up the calories.
Whereas a single vodka & diet lemonade/coke is only around 55kcal. So from a purely caloric load basis, drink vs drink, a vodka & diet lemonade would be a better option.
Now I’m obviously not advocating drinking in excess and slamming 10 vodka & diet cokes, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a few drinks without causing unwanted weight gain.
Slightly off topic, but still worth mentioning is how to deal with the aftermath of too many drinks. To avoid, (or at least reduce), the Christmas hangover then you need to re-hydrate yourself. A hangover is a lot to do with dehydration, so re-hydrating is key. You need more than just water however.
You need to replace the vital electrolytes that have been lost. So as well as drinking a decent amount of water when you get in, make sure you add electrolytes to your water.
With all that said, Christmas is a time to relax, enjoy spending time with family and friends and enjoying the Christmas food. A few big meals over Christmas won’t hurt if you keep your diet on track most of the time the rest of the year. Enjoy your favourite food and drink but be sensible about it.