Shockingly, the average person in the UK will consume around 6,000 calories (kcals) on Christmas day alone (versus the guideline daily amount of 2,000 kcals for women and 2,500 kcals for men)! In addition to this, over the festive period, which seems to kick off earlier and earlier, the average person may consume an extra 500 kcals per day, equating to a weight gain of around 5lb by the time January the first comes around.
Couple that with overindulging on festive work dos and being tempted by seasonal treats in the office and it’s not surprising that so many of us start the New Year with a diet. But the British Dietetic Association (BDA) says we needn’t put on weight over the festive period. For example if we plan what we are eating more, we can avoid weight gain.
Here, they offer their top tips for keeping slim over Christmas this year…
Prepare, plan and perform!
If you are going to eat out, eat smaller meals beforehand and cut out any other treats beforehand. While we all like to enjoy the odd treat now and then, balance this with some healthy options, such as satsumas pilled high in a bowl, dried fruit, figs and nuts.
Don’t hover by the buffet table and if you do indulge, try and visit only once using a smaller dessert sized plate, avoiding the high saturated fat offerings like sausage rolls and quiche, in favour of fruit, skinless chicken and vegetable crudités.
To avoid the office communal chocolate/mince pies etc. Take festive fruit like satsumas into work.
When going to the supermarket, make a list and stick to it. Don’t shop when you’re hungry and avoid those aisles of temptation by shopping online. If you want some festive snacks, try plain popcorn, pretzels, and vegetable crudités with a yummy low fat dip.
A bird in the hand..!
Turkey is a great source of protein and a low fat meat. Most of the fat that is present in a cooked turkey will be found in the skin. Why not take the skin off before you tuck in?
About a third of your dinner plate should be vegetables, such as unbuttered Brussels sprouts, peas and carrots. Cook for the shortest length of time possible in the smallest amount of water necessary to keep all the nutrients in. Use the veg water for gravy and any leftover veg for a delicious soup These make a great contribution to your 5-a-day and they also help fill you up to stop the urge to snack between meals.
If you want to go that extra step, try dry roasting potatoes on a non-stick baking sheet or use an oil spray instead of smothering them in goose fat. You can also make your gravy using vegetable water instead of meat juices, accompanied by a fruit-based stuffing with bread sauce made with low fat milk.
Those who like to indulge in a drink or two, tend to drink more over the Christmas period. Alcohol is very energy dense (7kcal/g versus 4kcal/g for protein or carbs and 9kcal/g for fat). Avoid sweet cocktails and creamy liquers. Try alternating your drink with a glass of water or other calorie free drinks. If you do enjoy a short with a mixer, stock up on low calorie mixers and unsweetened fruit juices and beware the home measures!
Who ate all the pies!
The average mince pie contains about 250 kcals and that’s before it’s covered in cream or brandy butter. Remove the lid to cut kcals. Christmas is also the time of year when most houses have boxes and boxes of chocolates and biscuits to hand. Open one box of chocolates at a time rather than having five on the go and put unopened boxes away.
Sian Porter, consultant dietitian and spokesperson for the BDA, commented:
“Christmas should be a time to enjoy festive fun and special food. You shouldn’t feel guilty about treats now and then but don’t make it an ‘eatathon’ that lasts from the end of November to the beginning of January. Make sure that they are treats and not the whole sum of your food intake. Stock up on some healthy alternatives too for some balance.
“This time of year, it is so easy to unwittingly consume a lot more calories than normal. Make plans to get yourself and the family active – dancing, shopping and post-meal walks all will help to burn off some calories.”
* Visit the BDA website at www.bda.uk.com The British Dietetic Association, founded in 1936, is the professional association for registered dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Do you have any other tips for keeping the weight off? Do let us know below…