6 Tips to Successfully Staying Slim this Holiday Season

6 Tips to Successfully Staying Slim this Holiday Season

Nobody wants to end up with a belly bigger than Santa’s at Christmas…

But, let’s face it - it’s virtually impossible to avoid overindulging at least a little bit at this time of year. And why would you want to? Christmas is a time for family, celebration, and good food and drink. Tis the season to be jolly, not to deny yourself of all life’s pleasures.

The good news is - you don’t have to miss out. With the advice in this article, you can have your cake and eat it too – literally! But it’s not about throwing all your hard work out of the window either. You’ve worked hard all year round to keep in shape and you want to keep it that way. It’s all about balance and maintaining good nutrition, along with the occasional treat.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into how to keep your festive spirits high, while simultaneously keeping your waist measurements low enough to avoid having to loosen your belt.

1 | Make a plan and stick to it

Turkey dinner in roasting pan with vegetables

All too often at this time of year, people go from party to family get-together to office buffet without any real plan of what they’re going to eat and when.

If you know that you’re going to a Christmas party that evening, plan to eat a filling, healthy meal before heading out. If you’re full when you get there, you’ll be less likely to pick the fattening foods at the buffet. If you know there’s an office party at lunchtime, take some healthy snacks with you to munch on and stand or sit away from the buffet, not right next to it.

Also, don’t be tempted to skip a meal or two to create a calorie deficit. Your hunger will get the better of you and, before you know it, you’ll be cramming biscuits and cakes into your mouth in a frenzy of sugar and chocolate.

By all means, allow yourself a treat or two, but the best plan is to eat these towards the end of the party. Once you spike your blood sugar with a couple of cakes or biscuits, you’ll crave more shortly afterward. If you eat some treats 10 to 20 minutes before leaving, you’ll limit the damage. Just make sure you’ve got some fruit and healthy snacks on hand when you get home to satisfy the sugar cravings.

Also, it’s a good idea to get a good understanding of where the calories lie in some typical Christmas food and drink so that you can limit or avoid certain things. Here’s a quick calorie breakdown of a typical Christmas day feast: (all values are approximations based on 1 serving only)


Drinks

Glass of Champagne
150 calories
Medium Glass of Red or White Wine
130 calories
Small Glass of Baileys
180 calories
Small Glass of Whiskey
120 calories
Small Glass of Brandy
150 calories
Glass of Port
160 calories
Pint of Beer
175 calories
Pint of Guinness
210 calories
Christmas Dinner

Slice of Roast Turkey
100 calories per slice
Nut Roast
230 calories
Stuffing Ball
120 calories
Bread Sauce
140 calories
Roast Potato
200 calories each
Mashed Potato
237 calories
Boiled or Steamed Vegetables
20-50 calories
Desserts

Christmas Pudding
350 calories
Trifle
220 calories
Mince Pie
230 calories
Brandy Sauce or Butter
100 calories

 

As you can see, passing on a few festive drinks, avoiding the bread sauce and maybe just having half a serving of dessert can save you 500 calories or more without feeling like you’ve missed out.

2 | Harness the power of protein

There’s nothing better than protein to fill you help and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods. Try to ensure that you get plenty of protein in your breakfast and lunch, so by the time the evening comes you’ll be nicely full and won’t feel like gorging on junk.

Here are a few high-protein meal ideas:

Breakfast
  • Scrambled eggs with grated cheese on whole-grain toast.
  • Greek yoghurt with dried nuts, seeds, and fruit.
  • Porridge oats mixed with Greek yoghurt and blueberries.
  • Protein pancakes or protein smoothie (check out our protein recipes for more ideas)
Lunch
  • Grilled chicken salad
  • Turkey and avocado sandwich
  • Hummus and falafel wrap
  • Chicken and coleslaw pitta
  • Roast salmon and quinoa salad with kale

An added bonus is that protein is great for building and maintaining muscle, so it will help you to avoid the Christmas flab. If you don’t have time to cook, try simply adding a couple of simple-to-make protein supplement shakes to your daily diet instead.

3 | Fill up on fibre

Believe it or not, but fibre is awesome. It may not seem that exciting as it doesn’t have a great reputation. Most people just associate it with ‘staying regular’. But there are plenty of other reasons to make sure you’re getting a good dose of fibre in your diet, especially over the festive season.

Fibre-rich foods actually slow down and reduce the absorption of calories as it binds with fat and sugar molecules in your stomach. Plenty of soluble fibre will also reduce the amount of weight you regain during feast times, which is just what you need when you’re likely to be over-indulging.

Fibre is also great for overall fitness with some studies showing that it reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Hopefully, you’re already getting enough fibre in your diet if you’re following a well-balanced and nutritious diet. But Christmas might be a good time to up the amount you consume temporarily to counteract the unhealthy intake. One of the best, and simplest, ways to do this is to snack on plenty of fresh fruit and veg. Where possible eat the skin, as it contains the most fibre, along with other nutrients and vitamins.

Here are a few examples of high fibre foods:

  • Fruit – berries, melons, oranges, apples, pears, mango, pineapple, etc.
  • Vegetables – broccoli, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, etc.
  • Beans, pulses and peas.
  • Wholegrain foods – bread, pasta, oats, barley, rye.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Potatoes with the skin.

4 | Sneak in some high-intensity workouts

Fit woman performing jumping squat as part of a HIIT workout

Ok, so we can’t have an article on avoiding weight gain without mentioning exercise. And there’s no better exercise for burning fat and maintaining muscle than High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Study after study has shown that HIIT keeps your body burning fat at an accelerated level for up to 24 hours after a workout. Ideal for the holiday period.

Another benefit is that HIIT is quick and efficient. You don’t need to go to the gym or even leave the house to work up a good sweat doing a HIIT workout. To give you some inspiration, we’ve put together this example of a good all-over body HIIT workout that only takes around 25 minutes.

25-minute HIIT all-over workout

Part 1

Perform each exercise at maximum intensity and take a 30-second rest between each round.

  • 50 seconds of butt kicks
  • 50 seconds of burpees
  • 50 seconds of squat leaps
  • 50 seconds of mountain climbers
  • 50 seconds of jumping lunges

50 second of alternating side lunges

After the 30 second rest, repeat part 1 before moving on to part 2.

Part 2

Perform each exercise at maximum intensity, with a 20-second forearm plank after each one.

  • 40 seconds of mountain climbers
  • 40 seconds of lateral plank walks
  • 60 second rest period
  • 40 seconds of plank jacks

Repeat part 2, then finish with some stretching.

Try to complete this workout every other day, preferably in the morning of any ‘party’ days.

5 | Try intermittent fasting

Fasting isn’t for everyone, but scientific research suggests that it can help to reduce weight gain and lower blood sugar levels. Lowering your blood glucose over the Christmas period will help to limit sweet cravings and keep temptation at bay.

Intermittent fasting usually means fasting for one, two or alternate days throughout the week. If you can’t stand the idea of a liquid-only fast for 24-hours, you can try limiting calorie intake to just 500 to 600 calories on fast days instead.

Don’t be a martyr and try to fast on the days when you’re attending events and parties, or even on Christmas day itself. Fit your fast days in around your social diary. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to do after the initial hunger pangs subside. Yes, you’ll get waves of intense hunger throughout the day, but they generally only last for 5 to 10 minutes. Coffee and plenty of water will help to reduce your appetite.

6 | Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Ok, so after all the sensible advice you may be thinking that it doesn’t sound like much fun. We’re not saying that you can’t enjoy yourself. Everyone needs to relax and let their hair down from time to time. Hopefully, you’ll find that the advice given can fit in around the festivities and you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself too much.

Throwing yourself into the social side of the celebrations – mingling, offering to help with activities and games, playing with your kids or relatives, etc. will help you to take your mind off eating and means you’ll have a blast at the same time. Enjoy!

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