I’m Dreaming of a Light Christmas

How to get through the festive period without piling on the pounds.

Nobody wants to be a bore at Christmas. For so many of us, it’s the time of the year reserved for throwing caution, exercise routines and diet plans to the wind, where we can reflect, relax and treat ourselves.

And yet there is a downside… of course! What follows in New Year is a bevy of mind-bending marketing telling us to get into shape and change habits for the better.

The good news is, rather than seeing Christmas as an expression of hitting rock bottom in our health wealth, we can actually use it as a springboard for improvement in 2023.

So here are five ways you can have a first-class festive season where health and fitness are at the forefront of your thinking… not tucked down the side of the sofa with the Cadbury’s Roses wrappers!

1. Drink plenty of water

Make sure that you keep hydrated throughout the festive period… with water! 

Okay, so it’s no crime to treat yourself to the odd tipple or three, but taking on other regular fluids, and water, in particular, will balance your body out, helping your liver at a time when it takes most punishment, whilst aiding digestion too.

And on that note, it’s worth remembering that drinking water can stop your hunger from getting the better of you. Research shows drinking a glass of water prior to eating will reduce appetite by a third.

2. Lessen your cheese overload

It’s a fair assumption – rather than investing in large portions of chocolate cake or the decorative delights of selection box sweets, switch instead to a dairy option, and the light delights of the cheese and cracker combination.

Unfortunately, while cheese obviously has less sugar, it also contains more calories. 

The solution, and one that will also ensure you feel sated in your fromage frivolity, is to have a smaller quantity of a strong cheese (Roquefort or Stilton, for instance) – the strength has actually been proven to act as a taste bud deterrent after the first few mouthfuls.

And if you just can’t resist chocolate, ensure it’s dark chocolate, which is proven to lessen the chance of heart disease due to the presence of antioxidants. 

3. Go nuts and not crackers

Look at avoiding crisps and baked snacks as much as you possibly can and, instead, try satsumas and nuts. Both contain high quantities of vitamin C and healthy oils and are much lower in fat.

Replace crackers with oatcakes – their slow-release sugars mean you feel fuller for much longer. Oatcakes also have soluble fibre that’s friendly on the heart, assisting in cholesterol-shifting from the bloodstream.  

4. Veg out

Of course, most of us prefer the protein and carbohydrate elements when it comes to big meals over the Christmas period – potato-based elements and meat can, for some of us, feel even more resistible than usual, particularly on a cold, dark day; yet the better your vegetable ratios, the healthier the meal.

In fairness, as far as Christmas Day lunch goes, it’s often the sheer mass of food that actually makes it unhealthy, although steering clear of things such as crispy turkey skin and chipolatas will undoubtedly help.

5. Fish risk

Smoked salmon is always a festive favourite, in various forms, but try to avoid butter and instead of hollandaise sauce, make it with freshly squeezed lemon and black pepper. 

Similarly, for prawn cocktail, use Greek yoghurt instead of the typical high-fat mayonnaise option.

 

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