We almost feel obliged to eat more than usual, as that’s what we have always been doing, since our childhood. The tables are filled with Mom’s delicious food, and so is the pantry. We cannot possibly let all this hard work go to waste…
Christmas is the time to see our family and share quality moments in a relaxed atmosphere. For some, it’s a chance to reflect on a passing year, reviewing the achievements and flops. The melancholic mood, topped with a crackling fire and a glass of sherry make us forget about diet regime, just for few days. And so why shouldn’t we?
Eating brings us of comfort; we crave snuggling up on the sofa with a plate of mince pies wearing a favorite onesie. We forget about work deadlines, diet restrictions and other trivialities.
Gaining few pounds is almost expected, like it’s another Christmas tradition. On average, we are likely to put on 5lb (2kg) over a Christmas period. As we don’t exercise (or do any activities), we don’t burn the excess calories. So these little guys have nothing better to do, than hide in our hips, bellies and thighs. Appealing…
Did you know that mere 14 mince pies equal to 3500 calories? That’s almost twice the recommended daily intake for us, ladies! That means an extra 1lb of pure fat we’ll have to lose later, grrr…
Is there a way to avoid it? We don’t want to sit by the Christmas table and nibble on a salad, while everyone else is enjoying their turkey with all the trimmings. We have to be smart and have some remnants of self-control. I know, Christmas and self-control should not be put in the same sack.
How about starting off by reducing the portion sizes? Or eating only until the point we are merely satisfied (and not till we are about to burst!). That’s a great approach.
We are not encouraging you to deprive yourself of food, or feel robbed of pleasure of Christmas. But, there is few smart tips that will help you survive festive gatherings and come out victorious, ready to shine in a gorgeous dress on New Year’s Eve. Now, that’s what I call a motivation!
Smart girls know to enjoy their Christmas with all the trimmings while having the full control over calories. How do they do it? They know which foods to pick from a buffet and in what quantities. By following few simple rules you can do it too. Just check the ideas below and apply them next time you feel threatened by a brandy cream.
How to have your cake…
- Did you know you can control hunger by convincing your brain you ate more than you actually did? Here’s how:
- Pick a small plate – when dining at the buffet, we tend to over-fill our plates. After all, it is all-you-can eat situation. Christmas is full of buffet traps. Outsmart them by picking a small plate (a dessert one, perhaps?) and you’ll trick your brain into thinking you had a big portion; after all, you ate a plate-full, didn’t you?
- Stay away from a food area – previous point takes us swiftly to a stand-up buffet scenario. You know you will be tempted if you linger around a serving section. Just do yourself a favor and vacate a danger zone.
- Put a hand in your pocket. Do you remember Alanis Morrisette singing I’ve got one hand in my pocket and the other is playing a piano? There’s a chance she was following the same tip. If one of your hands is hidden, and you hold the drink in the other, you can’t reach for food! You won’t be tempted by nibbles or a finger buffet. That leads us to the next tip, which is…
- Talk, talk, talk! If you mouth is moving is not munching. Simple as that!
- Brush your teeth – right before going to the party! You will not only gain a fresh breath, but also be less attracted to food. You wouldn’t want to spoil this cool minty taste in your mouth.
- Drink plenty of water – did you know that we often mistake thirst for hunger? By drinking water throughout a day (at least 4 glasses on top of tea and coffee), we fight the cravings and eat smaller portions at mealtimes.
- Are you REALLY hungry? Do you remember these times you were running around, sorting hundred things at once, and you completely forgot about a meal? Your mind was occupied and you didn’t focus on hunger. We often eat something just because we’re bored and have nothing better to do. In order to avoid that, organize a family outing, long walk in the countryside or ask everyone to play ‘Trivial Pursuits’.
…and how to eat it?
- Ok, so you cannot always dodge the food – it is Christmas, after all. The best you can do is to pick the right one. Stick to the light and filling choices. Here’s how:
- Start with the Proteins – as tempting as it sounds, it is a miracle maker. I’m talking of eating your turkey, prawns or ham first, before anything else. Why? Protein has the ability to fill you up faster than any other food. Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for a brain to register you’ve had enough to eat? That’s a long time! But, Protein cuts it down and sends the message to your brain earlier than other nutrients. So kick-start your Christmas dinner with a turkey, followed by high fibre vegetables and optional trimmings.
- Pick nibbles that speed up metabolism - yes, you will be sat by the TV at some point this Christmas, and let’s get real, there will be nibbles. They will surround you. The trick is to pick the ones low in calories but high in proteins to fill you up and boost a digestion. The best are: almonds, roasted chickpeas, cashew nuts and pistachios teamed with cranberries as well as dates.
- Snack before the party – have a protein bite at home just before leaving; that way you will fill your stomach and be less tempted by any sugary nibbles.
- Eat until you’re only 80% full – that’s one of the BEST tips I can recommend and it worked for me on many occasions. That also links to point 1 – remember that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to register we are full? If we stopped eating at 80% full, we may find we actually are full after 20 minutes. That’s also good way to avoid over-eating.
- Don’t swallow your food – ok, we don’t suggest spitting it out, but try eating slower and chewing for longer. Your brain will have a chance to keep up and warn in your time you had enough!
- Eat a bit of everything – diet shouldn’t feel like a torture, you know? Allow yourself few of your favorite snacks, but in small quantities. Don’t cheat yourself out of Christmas pudding or other seasonal foods, or you’ll end up regretting it afterwards. But opt for a smaller helping instead of a large portion.
- Cut your food – once you have a plate in front of you, cut the potatoes, parsnips, turkey etc. into smaller portions. It will look like a larger serving and will fool your brain into thinking you’ve had more to eat than you really did.
- Swap for lighter option – whenever possible, choose a vanilla yogurt over brandy cream and a juice over soda.
- Have a big breakfast – ideally full of proteins and fiber, like a musli with full fat milk or wholemeal bread with scrambled eggs. You will feel fuller for longer, be less tempted by nibbles and avoid a sugar rush late in the evening.
- Give-away any left overs – your guests would love to take some of the delicious veggie salad you’ve made, but would never ask for it after dinner. Offer it first, share the goodies with others; you won’t be tempted to munch later that night!
See, you can outsmart any Christmas temptations! These simple steps will let you enjoy the festive time like you always did, without missing out on any delights.
Have you got any tips yourself? We’d like to know how do you outsmart Christmas (and any festive celebration) and dodge the sugary snacks coming your way. Let us know, comment below and share your experience!