December is now upon us and the party season has begun – the office party, gatherings with friends and the all important Christmas Day feasts – all bound to be laden with temptation and unwelcome calories which will test even the strongest willpower to stay on track and not gain weight.
So here are my top tips and swaps to help minimise the damage – lets plan to arrive at the New Year without excess baggage….
Be smart about your drink choices – if you are going to be drinking alcohol then pick your poison carefully – white wine spritzer, bubbly (prosecco and champagne) or lower calorie spirits (gin / vodka) with diet tonics help keep liquid calories in check. Red wine confers additional health benefits in containing resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant which support our heart and blood vessels.
Avoid eggnog and festive latte – these are full of sugar and fat and although delicious and full of flavour can provide ¼ of your recommended calorie intake for the whole day.
Rather than consume too much sugar, try a cinnamon tea instead of hot chocolate – not only is this heartening and warming but cinnamon can also lower blood sugar
Try a few frozen grapes instead of sweets or desserts – not only are these a natural source of antioxidants but being frozen can take longer to eat and so that sweet craving may actually pass.
Use avocados in your chocolate pudding – these provide all the creaminess of double cream but are actually a healthy unsaturated fat and provide much nutritional goodness
Pick your dips carefully – instead of dunking your crudites in sour-cream based dip, look out for Greek yoghurt based dips and hummus – these both provide more protein, calcium and probiotics
If you need a chocolate fix then only allow yourself some really dark chocolate (no white or milk chocolate) – the higher the cocoa content the better and unsweetened is the best- not only does cocoa have some anti-oxidant benefits but you can only need so much bitter dark chocolate to hit the spot.
Have prawns, shrimp and sushi as appetisers – any finger food options, especially fried ones and sausage rolls can easily add too any extra calories. Protein rich seafood like this is a much safer choice.
Make your vegetable selection a green one (and make sure you eat them first) – green beans, broccoli, cabbage are all ideal. The lower carbohydrate content means less calories and the fibre provided is good for your digestive system.
Try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. This simple switch lowers the glycaemic load considerably and contains more fibre and overall nutrients.
Avoid the dinner rolls – not only can these result in you carb-loading before the meal, but you may eat less of the hunger satisfying protein that can keep you fuller for longer.
If you have the choice then pick sweet potatoes over white ones – more fibre and bursting with vitamin A.
Spiralized Courgette/ zucchini noodles make a healthy alternative to spaghetti -not only does this swap cut out empty carbs but you also get more vitamins and fibre.
Tuck into the turkey but hold back on the trimmings – turkey is a great source of hunger-busting protein so be sure to have a hearty portion. The sausages, gravy, stuffing and turkey skin will not be so kind to your waistline.
A small slice of Christmas pudding topped with crème fraiche instead of brandy butter means a lot fewer calories and much less sugar
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