Did you know that the average Australian will gain 1 to 3 kilos over the festive season? The worrying part is that this weight tends to stay on for the rest of the year and beyond, which means that in a few years you can be quite a bit heavier therefore significantly impacting your health.
Celebrations and social events are part of enjoying life and it is important to allow yourself to join in and enjoy festive foods on these special occasions.
With some simple tips and a little planning, you can prevent yourself from gaining those extra kilos so that you don’t have to make weight loss your new year’s resolution!
r Be mindful about your portion size - Enjoy festive foods in moderation and without guilt. Think about what you might eat and decide how much you will have to allow yourself to enjoy the upcoming meals. If you're planning to have a larger dinner, pace yourself and make breakfast a lighter meal by choosing a lighter option, or reduce your portion size or perhaps skip the fatty option such as the bacon. Or for desserts, ask for the ice-cream or cream on the side, share with a friend, or just have smaller serve. If you know in advance there will be a nice dessert to come, leave a little of your main course behind.
r Listen to your satiety signals - Pay particular attention to when you are feeling full and have had enough to eat. If you only feel like a piece of fruit for dinner after a big day of eating then do so and enjoy the break from worrying about a meal.
r Avoid going hungry to a party - we often eat faster and more when we are hungry - try having a small snack before going so that you are not tempted to overeat the unhealthy foods.
r Make a conscious choice to limit high fat and/or high sugar items - high fat food items can be found in fried food, cream-based soup, creamy desserts, mayonnaise drenched salads, cheese-filled casseroles, pies, processed meats such as salami and sausages, some pastries and baked goods, fatty meat, fatty bacon, crisps, pork crackling.
r Keep well hydrated - In the warmer weather, it is important to keep well hydrated. Most people need more than 2 litres of hydrating fluid everyday. Some fluids such as alcohol and caffeinated drinks can dehydrate your body. Have a jug of cold water ready in the fridge with lemon, lime or orange slices or some fresh mint.
r Enjoy alcohol in moderation - If you drink alcohol, enjoy it in moderation which means, for men up to 4 drinks per day and for women 2 drinks per day. Remember to have 2 alcohol free days a week. Try other versions of alcohol. Instead of full strength beer, cider, Baileys and Kahlua, try light beer, dry wine, Bloody Marys or spirits mixed with diet drinks which have fewer calories. Remember: alcohol is calorie dense and in excess results in weight gain.
Making a list… Checking it twice
Why not try a healthier and fresher theme this year? Plan your meals and write a list of the foods you will need to create your delicious Christmas meals.
Enjoy a fresh fruit platter, wholegrain cereal, low fat yogurt with berries, or perhaps poached eggs on grainy bread with lean bacon and lightly oiled grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and fresh baby spinach leaves.
Try rice or whole grain crackers with low fat cheese slices and healthy dips such as low fat tzatiki, hummus, and tomato salsa. You may as well include carrot, celery and cucumber sticks for dunking in to your dips! Offer nibbles such as dried fruit and nuts, pretzels, grain crisps or air popped popcorn. Maybe you would like to make some crushed fruit and low fat yogurt icy poles for cool snack. Mangoes do nicely here!
Enjoy some lean ham off the bone with fresh green leafy salads and/or roasted pumpkin baby spinach pine nuts salad, or perhaps some seafood such as oysters, prawns and calamari.
Try some barbequed fresh Salmon with char grilled zucchini, capsicum and eggplant strips and an array of green leafy salads, or perhaps skinless turkey with roasted vegetables.
Try fresh fruit salad (watermelon, rock melon, green grapes, mango, kiwi fruit and strawberries) with low fat yoghurt and a drizzle of honey, or perhaps fruit loaf with low fat custard.
Try different versions of egg nog. Traditional egg nog is usually made with egg yolk and thick cream. Use low fat milk and perhaps less egg yolk to lower the fat and calories! If you buy commercial egg nog, you will be delighted to find low-fat or fat-free egg nog out there - we can even find soy nog! See how you can modify your recipes to make them healthier.
Remember…. The festive season is a part of enjoying life. Allow yourself to join in and enjoy the festive foods in moderation. Merry Christmas!