If your best intentions for not overindulging during the festive period tend to fall by the wayside each year (like ours do), Dean Hodgkin, our Fitness Consultant, has a few tips which may just help you to stay on the wagon – or at least not go too far astray.
Over to you, Dean…
You know how it goes, you start with a few nibbles at the office party and end up sprawled on the sofa polishing off a box of Belgian chocolates, watching a James Bond film. But surely, as the saying goes: ‘it would be rude not to’.
So what I propose is not a spartan abstinence but a middle ground, aimed at getting you through the festive period without storing your saddlebags full enough to fuel your ‘new-year-new-you’ workouts until Easter!
The calm before the storm
When shopping, remember: you’re not heading for a bunker having just heard the four-minute warning. The shops will close for just one day (if at all, in some cases). Try not to overstock, buy only what you need by ensuring you never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Eat a low fat snack before leaving for a party or get together, and wash it down with a glass of water. Steer clear of the fatty dips such as sour cream and taramasalata, opting instead for salsa and tzatziki, which are only around 5-10 calories per portion. The simplest but most effective advice of all is to avoid temptation – so don’t stand by the buffet table or you’ll end up grazing the evening away.
One for the road
Try to avoid sweet drinks which stimulate your appetite. Instead opt for spicy drinks, such as a Bloody Mary. A sound suggestion is to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. Your skin and waist line, not to mention your kidneys, will thank you eternally for this one. If there’s really too much stigma attached to a glass of pure water then try the socially acceptable method of dilution; the spritzer. When making a choice of tipple be aware seasonal protocol is on your side with a dry sherry weighing in at only 58 calories compared with 88 for a glass of Champagne, 200 for a gin and tonic, and a whopping 780 calories for a Long Island iced tea. Ouch.
Taking the skin off the turkey, dry roasting the spuds, trimming the bacon before wrapping it around the sausages, steaming the vegetables and making custard with skimmed milk are just a few of the tactics to reduce fat content while still enjoying traditional fayre. But when visiting friends and relatives a little discipline is called for, so fill your plate if you must, but only once – never return to the buffet table.
Don’t be a scrooge
After eating, your blood sugar levels will rise and your pancreas releases insulin to control such. The result is that a few hours later this level may significantly drop, leaving you feeling ravenous. A good action plan here is to throw away your left overs or you’ll be tempted to see them off when you’re not even really hungry.
Have your cake and eat it
It is only once a year after all so treat yourself to a slice of Christmas cake, but try it ‘undressed’. [Editor’s note – we think he means the cake, not you!] Even just a small portion can register over 250 calories but removing the icing and marzipan can save you around half of these.
The morning after the night before
Amazingly, you’ll tend to wake up feeling hungry after overindulging, as your body will have secreted insulin into the blood overnight causing your blood sugar levels to plummet. Go with it. Rather than skipping breakfast in a vain attempt to compensate for the previous day’s Romanesque orgy of eating, opt for a light healthy snack. At all costs, avoid the binge/fast cycle which is an inevitable road to corpulent ruin. Be aware that a short period of overindulgence is not a bad thing if you remain active.
Remember, it’s not the amount you exercise and eat between Christmas and New Year that is the problem, it’s the amount between New Year and Christmas that makes the real difference!
Thank you for this Dean. And on that final point, you might like to have a look at our fitness breaks for 2017 – a great way to join like-minded guests and improve your health, while enjoying some pampering too.