Christmas is fast approaching, and I can already see on my clients how anxious they get about undoing all their hard-earned results this year. Are you also dreading Christmas Day and all the food and have already decided you won’t enjoy a bit of it to make sure you maintain your weight? I would advise otherwise. Christmas is for appreciating quality time with family and enjoying lovely food.
A survey done by a supplement company of 1000 people found that the average Brit consumes over 5000 calories on Christmas Day. Most of this will come with the dinner and includes snacks and alcohol calories.
The average daily intake of an average woman for maintenance should be no more than 2000, while the same figure for a man is 2500 calories. This means you essentially consume two days’ worth of food and drinks in one sitting.
I am here to tell you that it is okay so long as you have stuck to your nutrition goals for the rest of the year, especially for the rest of December. The problem for most people is that December is filled with social gatherings, Christmas parties, nativity plays at school and you are likely to meet up with people you haven’t seen in a long time, over dinner or drinks.
Imagine consuming an extra 300-500 calories a few times a week, plus your Christmas Day and other festive meals in the season. That would easily add up to 10000+ extra calories in December.
People tend to blame Christmas for the weight gain they notice in January, while it’s clear that 24 hours doesn’t make much of a difference. What you have been doing for the whole month of December will count.
Here are 7 top tips to stay guilt-free but also enjoy your festive dinner with your loved ones.
1. Portion Control
Understand that because it’s Christmas Day you don’t have to ditch the principles you have been following the whole year to achieve your weight loss goals. You only need to relax them a little to give more flexibility, but make sure your portions are sensible. Taste and try everything, just don’t overdo it.
2. Put everything onto the plate before eating
It’s hard to assess and control how much you eat when nibbling through your dinner. Take a normal size plate, make sure you pick from everything you’d like to try. Fill the plate with a sensible amount of food and once the plate is empty, stop yourself from having seconds and move onto the next dish.
3. Vegetables first
Make sure you take brussel sprouts and carrots first, then add the turkey. Ideally you’d like the majority of your plate covered by this point and then add potatoes and other sides to fill the gaps.
4. Chew slowly
This should be applied every time you eat, for two reasons. When eating slower, you can really appreciate and enjoy the flavours of your meal. You also give time to your stomach to send, “I am full” signs to your brain.
Normally you will feel full about 15-20 minutes after your stomach was full, especially if you eat fast. Make sure you enjoy the meal and allow your body to tell you when it’s time to stop.
5. Be cautious of fat
From the food perspective, the biggest risk factor is the fat content. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, while carbs and protein will have 4 calories per gram. If you know you would feel guilty after a Christmas Dinner blow-out, but you still want to enjoy the food, just go low on the high-fat foods: only taste the pigs-in-blankets, leave the turkey skin, reduce cheese consumption and avoid eating too much butter.
6. Beware of alcohol calories
This is the most dangerous for various reasons. People just don’t realise how many calories they consume when drinking.
A glass of champagne has got 110 kcal, a glass of white wine about 120 kcal, a glass of red wine is about 160 and a glass of mulled wine is 245 kcal. A bottle of beer is around the 140 kcal mark, however if you prefer higher alc%, the calorie intake will be higher than that.
Whilst alcohol has other damaging effects on the body, they will also add lots of calories to your Christmas Day calorie intake so try to stay sensible on that front too.
7. Let go of the guilt
If you’re already hyping yourself up to the Christmas dinner and dreading its consequences, you’re likely going to consume more to comfort yourself. It’s a vicious cycle but many people eat or drink more when they are emotionally, physically or mentally stressed out.
Instead, accept this is only one day of the year and allow yourself to enjoy your time with your family. If that means you’ll overeat, then just make sure you have a plan for boxing day and the rest of the month so you don’t carry on into the new year with bad habits.
Would you like some tailored advice on how to get through the next 10 days without gaining pounds of fat? Send me a message!
Gareth Allen - Personal Trainer and Owner.