10 Top Tips to avoid piling on the pounds over Christmas - and what to do if you have!

We're likely to eat a shocking 6000 calories on Christmas Day, as well as an extra 500 calories every day on the run-up to the holiday, which starts earlier and earlier each year. By the time we reach New Year's Eve, we could be wearing an extra 5lbs around our tummy (think I am already, with just a week to go!) 

It could then take weeks to lose that extra weight, starting during the most depressing month of the year.  But don't worry, I have a couple of ideas for you at the end of the blog on how to lose weight safely, quickly and healthily if you do decide to go for it in January. 

Otherwise, here's what to do during the most calorific time of the year so you don't have too much "dieting" to do after the holiday...........

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MY 10 TOP TIPS

1. Every day.......start each morning with a drink of hot water and lemon, or lime, to wake up your digestion. You will get a large dose of Vitamin C to protect you against colds and it will help your system stay more alkaline, before the acidic onslaught of Christmas lunches, parties & treats. A more alkaline digestion equals less bloating.

2. Be alcohol savvy:  choose low alcohol wines. The lower the alcohol, the fewer the calories and, hopefully, the less the hangover!  A small glass of wine that has a 10-11% alcohol content could be saving you 59 calories a glass compared to a wine in the 13-15% range. Prosecco has a lower alcohol content than champagne. But champagne contains NO yeast, so may be better for you if you're yeast intolerant and prone to bloating.

3. Don't forget to drink water: the more alcohol you drink, the more you'll pile on the calories and the more you'll want to eat, so try alternating one glass of wine with one glass of water (or a non-alcoholic cocktail). It will help you avoid that big afternoon slump and the banging headache, and will reduce calorie intake at the same time.

4. Change the way you snack: swap salty peanuts, which encourage you to drink more, for unsalted fresh nuts. Twiglets are less calorific than crisps.  Olives are healthier and less fattening than snacks such as devils-on-horseback or pigs in blankets. Swap sweets for satsumas, your health (and waistline) will thank you for it. Eat 70% cocoa dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate.  Take the icing off your portion of Christmas cake for fewer calories.  And just eat the bottom half of a mince pie or sandwich for even more savings.

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Having said all that, for god's sake it's Christmas, so don't go totally health freaky, just think 'less is more' when it comes to mince pies and fatty snacks. and enjoy everything, in moderation.

5. Christmas Day, fill up with a healthy brekkie first thing: Have a protein and nutrient-packed breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs or omelet and avocado or greens with, of course, the obligatory Buck's Fizz or two. Fewer calories than a fry up or sugar-loaded snacks and you will be lining your stomach ready for the day.

6. Be smart about Christmas lunch: when it comes to the biggest meal of the year, think meat and nine veg instead of meat and three veg. Take the skin off the turkey, have a couple of roast potatoes instead of a pile. Fill up with the good stuff, such as brussel sprouts, instead of the starchy carbs and you will be saving a heap of calories.

7. Like your Mum used to say, chew your food: eat slowly and chew each mouthful really well, like twenty times, to eat less and feel fuller earlier. Wait half an hour till eating more. It takes your stomach that long to send a signal to your brain that it's had enough.

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8. Avoid hard cheeses: cheese is very tempting and moreish, especially with red wine. Full fat hard cheese really piles on the pounds and isn't great for the heart, because of its high saturated fat content.  Soft cheeses (such as Boursin) are lower in calories as are cheeses made from goat, buffalo or sheep's milk. However, don't deny yourself. Your mantra for Christmas should be 'a little of what you fancy does you good.'

9. Get out and walk: even if it's only 30 minutes of brisk walking, you'll burn calories. Join the NHS challenge to start the 10k steps a day challenge and you'll lose those extra pounds slowly, but safely.  If you did it four times a week you could lose 8 kilos in a year! Here's a link to my short blog on walking 10 k a day. So, ask Father Christmas for a pedometer, or download an app, so you're ready for the New Year, having had a wonderful treat-filled Christmas.

10. And if all else fails: and you're really determined to kick off your New Year cleansing or dieting (far better to do this in the Spring) then you'll find the blogs I've written on Intermittent Fasting, below, really useful. They're both simple, easy and incredibly good for your health, and you'll lose weight quickly and safely. Oh, and you'll be hungry! I am a big fan of them both of them. They're also very well researched and documented but, as ever, please check with your doctor first if you have any worries or health issues.

The 5:2 diet (five days of eating normally and two days of reduced calories)  is the one I am sure you have heard about constantly and fairly easy to do. My own physician puts her patients on this one if they need to lose weight.  But I am even more taken with it because of the many health benefits, including a sharper brain.  You can do this one easily at home and in January. Click here. 

The other one is a 5-day Fast Intermittent Diet, researched and invented by the Professor who was behind much of the documented health benefits of the 5:2 diet. This one is more costly, but it takes all the thinking out of the fasting. No shopping, weighing or counting calories. Your nutrient-dense food for 5 days just arrives and all you have to do is eat it.  I was very hungry on this one but the health benefits documented are even better than on the 5:2 diet and my weight loss was ridiculous.  I ended up the same weight as I was at 21!  Some ten pounds in five days. It's something I now do twice a year for my health and is far, far cheaper than a 5-day juice fast at a Spa!

Click here for more info on the Fast Intermittent Diet and here for my experience of a 5-day juice fast at a spa.

I do hope these ten top tips are helpful and not too hard to follow. Please let me know how you go and, although I will be in India for most of January and not fasting at all, I would love to hear from you!

All that remains for me to say is a big thank you for your wonderful support over the last year and to wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

(And keep an eye on my Instagram, after Christmas, for some light and colour from India!)

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