It’s the festive season in full swing, and with that comes a host of issues, not least of which is the prospect of holiday weight gain. You know that Christmastime means parties, and parties mean food. More often than not, that food is packed with sugar, butter and other delectable things that have no place in one’s daily diet. But that’s okay – you can make exceptions for the sake of holiday cheer! Just follow these tips to make sure you don’t end up looking like a balloon.
• Malls have replaced markets as the epicentres of the Christmas shopping experience, but both are still good places to get a workout by doing plenty of walking. If you drive there, park further away from the entrance to increase the distance you travel on foot. When you’re done, forego the assistant and carry your own purchases for extra calorie burn!'
• You can’t avoid being invited to some year-end holiday parties unless you’re Ebenezer Scrooge, and treats are inevitably going to be more calorie-packed than healthy. Keep the ball in your court by hosting rather than attending, so that you can exert greater control over what’s on offer. If you do end up as a guest, take something healthy as your contribution.
• Keep a check on your alcohol consumption. While the substance itself isn’t especially packed with calories, it is metabolised before other things. This means that sugary mixers and fatty snacks consumed with a drink are put on hold, turning into extra calories that end up being converted into fat stores. Stick to dry wine or spirits with ice, and especially avoid sugar-rich eggnog.
• Use your judgement and substitute wisely without ruining the experience for yourself. Craving a hit of fudge? Have a small piece, or enjoy a bit of antioxidant-heavy dark chocolate in its place. Do you find it tough to resist Christmas cookies? Stick to gingerbread rather than cream-filled macaroons.
• It’s been proven that shopping for groceries is best done on a full stomach. Wandering through aisles of snacks and treats on an empty stomach means you’re more likely to come home with bags full of chips and dip, rather than the fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meat that are a much smarter buy.
• Temptation isn’t easy to resist, so make things easier on yourself by removing the problem altogether get rid of it. Empty your house of fattening seasonal foods, even if it means giving them away. In fact, double up on the Christmas spirit by donating foods you shouldn’t overindulge in to those who can’t afford to enjoy them.
• Stay active. It might seem tough to make time for exercise, with all the parties to attend and shopping to do, but just 30 minutes per day will make life less stressful. It’ll also regulate your blood pressure and heartbeat, putting less strain on your internal organs as they deal with your food and drink consumption.
• At best, tight or fitted clothing will have you too self-conscious to binge on snacks and booze; at worst, you’ll be too busy sucking in your gut to be able to eat. Keeping one hand occupied with a nursed drink or mobile phone can also be effective in reducing calorie intake, experts say.
• Gum is your friend. Keep a pack of the sugarless variety on hand, and pop in a piece or two when you feel cravings but know you aren’t actually hungry. The stimulation of saliva production and the flavour of the gum will help combat your desire to eat.
• Use your eyes as much as you use your mind. When you first arrive at a party, stick to 100% juice or flavoured water. Take 30-60 minutes to meet your friends and get to know new people; working the room can put you in your element, taking your attention off the food. Buffets should be treated with particular caution. Remember to scrutinise the entire spread before you put anything on your plate, or you run the risk of assembling a haphazard dinner.
• Variety is the spice of life, but it’s also a conductor of calories. It might be tempting to sample each of the 25 dishes on offer, but remember that the whole point of willpower (and this article!) is to help you resist temptation. Pick two or three items that will keep you full without piling on the calories: salad, plain roti and a few pieces of chicken, for example. Stick to these in limited quantities by making only one trip to the buffet, and remember to use your judgement when it comes to dessert!