Christmas is a time for indulgence. And the days after Christmas are a time for ruefully prodding your belly and regretting that third helping of Christmas pudding.
If you’re on a diet and dreading Christmas overeat, we’ve got some tips which might help you resist temptation.
Fill up with fibre-rich starters. Our first tip is to eat fibre-rich starters before meals. It may seem like this is encouraging you to eat more rather than less but, in fact a small dish of something rich in fibre (for example, bean soup or lentil fritters) will fill up your stomach and keep your digestive system busy, meaning that you’re less likely to pile your plate high and/or have seconds when it comes to the mains. Net result: fewer calories.
Eat before you go out. Eating before heading to a Christmas party or event has two benefits. Firstly, a full stomach will slow the effects of alcohol on your system – meaning that you’re less likely to lose your inhibitions around food. And, secondly, it will mean you’re less snacky when nibbles are offered.
Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is good for you anyway, but keeping your water levels topped up will also help your body to regulate your appetite in a healthy way.
Sleep well. Christmas is a weird time for our body clocks. Normal routines go out of the window, and that can set our Circadian rhythms off course. Appetite and body clock are closely related, so when your body clock is confused your eating patterns are likely to be disrupted. It’s not always easy at this time of year, but prioritising your sleep will help you to keep hunger and snacking at bay. Practise good sleep hygiene, and try not to oversleep or undersleep.
Be careful with alcohol. Not only is alcohol full of calories, it is also terrible for your self-control. A boozy party or a long pub session always results in a lot of snacking and 3am visits to the chippie. Enjoy yourself – but be careful and responsible.
Eat meals, not snacks. Snacks are sneaky. If you spend the day snacking, the calorie count creeps up very quickly without you noticing it. Filling up with three largeish meals a day usually means you’ll ultimately take in fewer calories than you would have if you were snacking all day.
Don’t overthink it. It’s easy to put weight on at Christmas – but it’s also easy to lose that weight when you return to your normal eating and exercise habits. Don’t fixate on maintaining a diet to the point that it ruins your Christmas.