The festive season is upon us, it’s a time to eat, drink and be merry, but where does this leave us if we’ve been living a healthy lifestyle for the last few months? We all say, we’ll be good this Christmas. We vow to stick to our diets and not be tempted by all the sweets, cakes, pies and as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a whole feast of savoury treats and drinks to contend with too. By the time we’re wrapping presents, we’ve all said “stuff it”. We’ve ruined the diet we worked so hard on and are tucking into our third tin of quality street. Or, we stay in complete denial and can’t understand why, when we step on the scales on 1st January, we see the figure insisting we’ve put on 10lbs. “Was I really that bad? I didn’t eat that much” we all say. It’s easy for the uncounted calories to rack up: A sweet every time we pass the tin in the office, a mince pie with every other cuppa, and not questioning the calorie overload in that gingerbread latte, because it’s just coffee. And that’s all just in the lead up to the big event. It’s a dietary minefield and it’s no wonder so many people vow to steer clear of the festive food and stick to their salads, only to cave half way through the month. If you can’t enjoy food at Christmas, when can you?
With this in mind I’ve decided I’m going to put together The Christmas Calorie Crash Course to help guide us all through the festive period. I’ll be pointing out my top 5 tips for not having the weight gain blues over the Christmas and new years periods. I’ll also put together an example food diary covering every occasion from just wanting a Christmas inspired lunch to Christmas day itself to show you that you can enjoy all of the celebrations without gaining weight. I’ve also researched the lowest calorie options from all major UK supermarkets to let you know where to buy some of the items mentioned in the food diary. Don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on socials so that you never miss any of my healthy recipes for weight loss.
My top 5 tips:
Tip 1: Stick to single portion packs wherever possible. How many times have you had an extra scoop or two of a food ‘just to finish it off’? It may need finishing off but it still contains lots of extra calories, in some cases, just an extra scoop or two could actually double the recommended serving size.
Tip 2: When your not preparing your own food for example at a restaurant or dinner party, remember what the portion size should have been and ask yourself whether you really need to eat everything that’s there, nobody will be offended if you don’t clear your plate! This also goes for times when you can’t count calories. Your host may not be offended if you don’t clear your plate but they might feel a little put out if you start asking them for the exact calories in every component of the meal they lovingly prepared. Don’t stress about it, just eat intuitively and ask yourself if you really need all that is there, to feel full and satisfied.
Tip 3: Don’t aim to actually lose weight during this time. With all the temptation around us its just an unrealistic goal. You’d have to have insane will power to avoid it all for a whole month. Eat at Christmas parties, take your favourite chocolate from the tin, snuggle up on Christmas eve with the kids with a nice hot chocolate, tuck into the cheese and crackers on boxing day, just don’t do it all day, every day. Aim to maintain your weight throughout the festive period so that you have plenty of options to partake in all the ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ atmosphere without feeling too restricted. Everyone’s maintenance calories will be different due to weights, heights, activity levels and metabolism but for the sake of argument the food plan below will be based around a 1800 calorie maintenance diet.
Tip 4: Christmas day isn’t a 24 hour eating competition. Does your Christmas dinner have to be piled 6 inches high? NO! You know you’re probably not going to finish all of that anyway. Assuming the potatoes were quartered into 2” chunks, 3 is an appropriate portion size, add half a parsnip if you like them. As for the meat, whether you’re having turkey, beef or something different all together 1-2 slices of meat is plenty. If the pigs in blankets are your main event as well, add just 2 of these to your plate, and no that doesn’t mean, 1 for now, 2 for your plate and 4 whilst you’re doing the washing up.
Tip 5: There’s nothing unusual about keeping up with regular healthy meals during December. You can still have salads, stir fries and whatever yummy low calorie meals you enjoy, there’s no ban on having non-Christmas foods! If you’d like some inspiration for low calorie meals that you can enjoy by yourself or with friends and family all throughout December and into the new year, check out some of these recipes:
- Courgette Parcels
- Cauliflower Pizza
- Oaty Apple Crumble
- Sausage & Broccoli Orzo
- Broccoli Soup
- Mushroom Risotto
- Feta Pasta With Tomatoes And Spinach
The example food diary:
*All calories are estimated using an average of several supermarket and restaurant options to give as accurate and realistic calorie counts as possible.
Christmas dinner breakdown:
- Turkey 150kcal
- Pigs 72kcal
- Roast potatoes 168kcal
- ½ parsnip 50kcal
- Yorkshire pudding 132kcal
- Stuffing 90kcal
- Veg 70kcal
- Gravy 20kcal
- 2 sausage rolls 62kcal
- 1 slice quiche 180kcal
- 2 tempura prawns 70kcal
- 2 cheese bites 82kcal
- Small handful of cheese savoury biscuits 130kcal
- Small palmful of peanuts 120kcal
- Mince pie 220kcal
- Yule log slice 143kcal
** Calories complete estimate only as sandwich fillings could vary wildly. Estimate based on smaller amounts of everything on a Christmas dinner in smaller portions plus two slices of bread.
The lowest calorie options for all things listed in the meal plan:
- Morrisons mince pie 214kcal
- Tesco classic Christmas pudding 100g 301kcal
- Lidl Gelatelli ice cream various flavours approx. 350kcal
- Options hot chocolate 38-44kcal
- Elmlea light double cream 74kcal
- Water biscuits 22kcal
- Cream crackers 35kcal
- Cheddars cheese biscuits 20kcal
- Dairylea light triangles 25kcal
- Boursin portions 63kcal
- Asda Lemon Cheesecake 200kcal
- Sainsburys small seriously chocolate cake 264kcal
Have a wonderful Christmas, enjoy every moment and go into the new year feeling ready feeling healthy and motivated!