You can still have a good time at Christmas without piling on the pounds, apparently. Catherine Scott reports.
Christmas is a time for over-indulgence. But there are ways that you can minimise the damage and still have a good time.
According to Fabiola Detari, a personal trainer and nutrition expert based in Leeds, the festive season can cause problems for months to come if you aren’t careful.
“The Christmas season is the most damaging to people’s health with the average person piling on over 12lbs over the holidays,” says Fabiola.
Here are her top ten tips on how to stay fighting fit for the festivities and avoid that inevitable January slump.
Daily detox – Kick start each day with a large glass of water with half a fresh lemon squeezed into it to revitalize the body and mind. It doesn’t just reduce your appetite to stop you reaching for the mid-morning snacks, but it also cleanses the liver, helps digestion, reduces bloating and wards off stress. It’s also alkalizing and an excellent source of vitamin C and electrolytes which can give you a well needed pick me up if you have perhaps indulged a little too much the night before.
Party food – Never head to a Christmas party on an empty stomach. If you do, you set yourself up for total calorie carnage. Eat a small amount of salad, fruit or nuts before heading out and it will stop you reaching for the mince pies.
Embrace the turkey – Pile your plate up with meat and vegetables first. Filling up with a substantial amount of clean food will reduce your total calorie intake. By the time pudding comes round your stomach will have received the stretch reflex, sending signals to the brain that you have eaten enough already.
Walk it off. If all the socialising is getting a little crazy, don’t ditch the workout completely, just reduce it. Small doses of exercise, 15 – 20 minutes can improve your mood and keep your metabolism high. You don’t have to go it alone in the gym, involve family and friends and take a winter walk, go sledging, embrace a fitness dance class or even put on the skates and get on the ice rink!
Choose “fitter” drinks. Alcohol and Christmas go hand in hand for many of us, but you can choose a healthy drink and still be “merry”. A standard glass of white wine can contain as many calories as a chocolate bar. Over the festive period we drink on average eight glasses of wine a day, which adds up to over 200 units over the average holiday. Reach for a low-calorie option such as gin or vodka and use low-calorie mixers and remember to substitute every other drink with a glass of water to stay hydrated.
A little help from a vitamin.Between overindulging, late nights and the general stress of the Christmas season your immune system may take a battering. Reach for organic multivitamins and supplements with a few essentials that will support the immune system; vitamin D, vitamin C and probiotics to aid digestion.
Start as you mean to go on. Recent studies conducted at the Purdue University suggested that eating protein at breakfast has the highest impact on satiation. What’s more, eating a protein rich breakfast can lead to a 28 per cent decrease in hunger throughout the day. So regardless of how late you’ve slept in or how groggy you’re feeling, don’t skip breakfast and tuck into scrambled eggs, ham omelette or smoked salmon.
Water is your best friend – Getting through the holidays can feel like running a race. When your schedule really heats up and you forget to keep hydrated you sense false hunger patterns. Many people mistaken thirst for hunger; If you have a glass of water before a meal you can avoid overeating and remember to only eat when you feel hungry, not thirsty!
Find “me-time”.Be completely selfish and prioritise a bit of time each day that is all about you. People often say that Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. So take a bit of time out, read a book, meditate, detox, start your day with dry brushing, take a bath; make it extra potent by adding in some soothing Epsom salts or essential oils. You’ll feel like you can cope with all of the Christmas festivities a lot easier.
Think 10 before 10. Make it your mission to do 10 minutes of some sort of healthy activity before 10 in the morning. Go for a quick walk, stretch, do some squats and press ups, fit in a few yoga poses,take the dog for a walk or chase the kids around park. You will feel the benefits and feel more energised for the rest of the day.
Fabiola Detari was raised in central Europe and worked across the globe, before settling in Leeds nearly 10 years ago.
Burn off the extra calories
Even if you consume significantly more calories than you burn off this Christmas, a short, daily bout of exercise will stave off most of the negative effects of over-eating and inactivity, according to scientists at the University of Bath.
Whilst earlier studies found that just a few days of eating too much and exercising too little could have long-term negative impacts on the body, a new study, published recently in the Journal of Physiology, shows that daily exercise will counter many of these effects.