The same thing happens every year. We gorge ourselves on Christmas pudding, can’t move for a week, cry when we can’t do up our jeans and then vow to hit the gym like a maniac in January. But what if there was a way to enjoy your food this Christmas without the post-Roses box guilt? We asked Nutritional Therapist Amelia Freer for her top tips for not overindulging this Christmas.
1. Make time for a good breakfast and never skip meals
"Always start your day with a good quality protein breakfast which will set you up for the rest of the day. Look to include foods such as eggs, salmon or chicken. It’ll regulate your appetite and prevent energy dips too. The worst thing you can do is to just have a coffee on an empty stomach – you’ll almost certainly crave something naughty later on.
"Avoid skipping meals too. At this time of year, many people think that if they starve during the day then they can go crazy when they go out that evening. This means that blood sugar levels drop too low and you won’t be able to control your cravings later on. Look to include good fats in your meals too such as coconut oils, avocados, smoked salmon, mackerel, seeds, nuts and nut spreads (such as almond, hazelnut and tahini) which will make you feel fuller for longer and stop blood sugar levels dropping too low. Always make time to have three good quality meals a day, no matter how busy you are."
2. Enjoy your Christmas dinner - just exercise portion-control
"A traditional Christmas roast is actually quite healthy, it’s just the add-ons that need to be more carefully monitored. Roast turkey is a great example of a lean healthy protein which is rich in selenium and helps in the production of serotonin. Brussel sprouts are pretty much a super food in my opinion - they’re full of nutrients and recent studies have shown that they can reduce the risk of cancer too.
"Try to avoid rich, creamy sauces and sugary ones like cranberry sauce as well. Instead of dessert, maybe opt for a couple of glasses of wine instead during the meal. Ultimately though, your Christmas lunch should be enjoyed, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Look to control portion sizes instead. As a rough rule of thumb, look to divide your plate as follows: 25% for potatoes and starchy foods (the ‘naughty’ section of your plate!), 50% for vegetables,
25% for protein."
3. Experiment with desserts
"If the lure of dessert is too much, try making a few substitutions if you can. Instead of brandy butter, other great alternative creamy sauces could be nut cream, vanilla almond cream or COYO coconut yoghurt. Other suggestions could be a chia seed and orange pudding (which is similar to rice pudding) or an almond and orange cake instead."
4. Pre-empt the post-Christmas bloat
"Start taking a good quality digestive enzyme now to give your digestion a helping hand during the festive period. Take a good quality probiotic as well, which will give your immune system a boost. Try to look for ones that cost more than a tenner and avoid ones that are on special offer in supermarkets. It’s best to get them from a nutritional therapist or from a good specialist health shop." Shabir Daya, Pharmacist and co-founder of Victoria Health recommends taking Mega Probiotic ND, £18.50, ( www.victoriahealth.com ) to help maintain optimum health.
5. Be in control of your snacks
"Ensure that you have all of your health foods available to you at home or in the office so that you don't fall prey to going out hungry, or getting home and picking on junk because you’re hungry or have drunk too much. This is where the good fats like avocados, mackerel, salmon and nut spreads come in handy.
"If you’re hosting a party, try serving roasted vegetables instead of crisps and maybe something a little different like spicy roasted chickpeas or smoked mackerel pate, which is full of good fats and will keep you fuller for longer. Serve with celery and carrot sticks for the finishing touch.
"If you’re the guest, eat before you go and line your stomach with protein, so it makes it easier to say no when tempted!"
6. Steer clear of mixers
"Pure vodka is actually the least calorific spirit, but once mixers are used, this goes out the window as they contain so much sugar! For this reason, cocktails are the most fattening. My recommendations would be prosecco and sparkling wine as they don’t introduce such high levels of sugar into the blood. Make sure you have a glass of water in between drinks. This will keep you hydrated so that you feel better the next day."