Don’t fall in to the festive dieting trap of forgetting about the hidden calories in your Christmas drinks this season. Indeed, the classic eggnog, for example, contains “around 340 calories per cup, with 19 grams of fat”, says Kathleen Zelman from Web MD. Ouch! To consume less liquid calories, swap festive tipples such as mulled wine and eggnog, with champagne and white wine. If you’re craving a hot drink, ditch the syrup and whip up a warming treat with festive-flavoured coffee beans instead. From gingerbread to Christmas pudding, there are all sorts of Christmassy coffee beans lining supermarket shelves throughout the festive season – yum!
‘Tis the season of temptation, fa la la la lah, la la la lah. With all the miniature mince pies and Santa-shaped sweets being offered out by our colleagues and friends throughout the festive season, it’s often hard to resist temptation. However, snacking on treats here and there leads you to lose count of how many calories you’ve consumed. Instead of accepting various sweet treats during the Christmas period, nibble on healthier sweet treats when you get peckish, such as dark chocolate and tasty fruits.
Sometimes, a carrot is just a carrot. And carrots are good for you, right? Right. But take into consideration what certain ‘healthy’ dishes are marinated in before adding a portion to your plate. Fatty marinades turn low-calorie foods into high-calorie fat-traps, so beware. If you’re whipping up a healthy dip or marinade, use low-calorie ingredients such as hummus, salsa and fat-free Greek yoghurt.
As the turkeys get fattened up for Christmas, make sure you don’t follow suit. A classic way to pile on the pounds is by eating too fast; being in a rush to fill your hungry tum often results in consuming more calories than you need to. Indeed, as picked up on by dietician Rick Hall, ''it can take up to 20 minutes to feel full, so eat slowly. Otherwise, you just keep eating when really you should be done”, says Hall. Talking to other guests at Christmas meals and taking sips of your drink in between bites will help to slow down your eating pace.
The average woman gains over five pounds during the Christmas period, but it’s not just down to greed, says dietician Susan Walker. In fact, psychology plays a huge part in those hidden diet traps as even the sight and smell of food can set off a hunger pang. Indeed, the sights and smell of food often “sets off metabolic signals of hunger and expand our stomach so that we need more food to feel equally full”, Walker explains. If standing around a table-full of tempting food leads to more hunger pangs than usual, socialise in another room until it’s actually time to eat.
The very nature of Christmas food leads us to eat more of it. Indeed, tasty festive treats such as butter-laden stuffing, rich fruit cake and Christmas pudding drenched in brandy sauce are all “very high in calories and very low in fibre. In other words, you have to eat huge amounts of them before you feel full”, says Walker. Try eating a healthy meal before you head out for a festive feast. This way, you should be able to eat less from the Christmas table without being left with a rumbly tum.
While there may be plenty of different foods on offer during the Christmas period, don’t fall into the hidden diet trap of trying a little bit of everything. As Walker explains, “the sheer luxury of choice [at Christmas meals] means that most diners eat an extra 400 calories simply tasting all of the delights on offer”. Instead every food on offer, limit yourself to around four dishes that you really fancy the look of. Turkey, roasted parsnips, Yorkshire pudding and Christmas pud come at the top of our list!