Will your holiday meal be naughty or nice? Will you blow your diet over Christmas? The 12 sins and virtues of Holiday meals, including Calories of Christmas Dinners.
Here’s a frightening statistic. Overweight and obese people in the Western Countries, particularly in Australia and in the USA, gain up to five times as much weight towards the end of the year (including Christmas and New Years) as they do throughout the rest of the year. It’s definitely easier to gain weight when the holidays are around and you have extra time on your hands or unlimited cruise food choices or your family’s best home cooking. In the northern hemisphere, weight gain at Christmas is made worse by having the holidays compounded with winter inactivity – meaning a lot of time indoors with room for excess eating. In Australia, where it’s summer-time at Christmas, you’re usually eating Christmas lunch and dinner in sweltering heat. This means you might be reaching for high calorie cocktails, mocktails or other beverages loaded with sugar, and consuming far more calories than you realise, at your Christmas Dinner. It’s incredibly easy to blow your diet whether you’re eating at home, holidaying overseas or visiting family. So how can you stick to your diet or measure the calories of Christmas Dinners and avoid the caloric sins of holiday meal times? The answer is simple: through careful planning and thoughtful portion sizes. And by staying hydrated so you don’t consume TOO much at Christmas.
Why do we gain so much weight at Christmas and New Years?
Despite the warmer weather, which sometimes means less eating than in winter – Christmas in Australia is still associated with sharing meals, and consuming far more calories than any of us really needs. Many of us will end up pushing ourselves away from the dining room tables with bloated belly’s and feeling very uncomfortable from over-eating, and we dread getting on the scales again come January. Many of us will also tell ourselves we’ll start a diet in January.
Make this year the one when you change gaining weight over the holidays or at your Holiday or Christmas meal.
Too much emphasis on the meals you are going to eat is not necessarily the heart of the Christmas spirit – particularly when much of the food can be bad for your health. Certainly it’s a time to try a few tasty treats, but the emphasis is on “few” and on portion sizes. Quantity is everything, and you’ll really need to be watchful and diligent to know what is, and isn’t, going to add girth to your waistline this Holiday period.
Here’s a guide of some of the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s if you want to stay healthy and enjoy your summer holiday.
The 12 Caloric Sins of Holiday Meals or Christmas Dinners: How to NOT blow your diet over Christmas or New Years
- Over-eating in general: when a big part of holidays including Christmas is the food and drink that surrounds it, you’re already setting yourself up for indigestion. Eating huge amounts at one time is very taxing on the gut, so try to avoid feasting until you ache.
- Too much variety: it’s often at holiday times that people feel the need for a table that groans with food. Turkey or ham is not enough, so handfuls of prawns, a leg of lamb or a beef fillet, and several sticky pudding desserts are often added to the list. Taking a little bit of everything on offer leads of an over-laden plate. Pick and choose carefully and only choose your absolute favorites. The excess calories aren’t worth it, otherwise!
- The wrong food combinations: a Christmas meal is seldom well-balanced. There are endless different ingredients, many of them laden with excess fats or sugars, that may not mix overly well in some people’s stomachs. For example, fruit and meat might go well together in the mouth, but for some of us, they might seem to compete in the digestive tract. When some fruits are combined with other foods (such as cranberry sauce mixed with turkey), or prawns mixed with lamb, the food tends to stay in the stomach and ferment a bit due to slower digestion. It’s variable between individuals, but might be something to consider.
- Lots of alcohol: you’re probably thinking that the holidays are only real when there’s lots of champagne or wine on offer. If your main meal is at lunchtime, however, your liver enzymes – the same ones that process alcohol – are potentially at their lowest point. This is why drinking during the daytime can affects you more than doing so at night. Also, when you eat and drink at the same time, the liquids pass nearly straight into your intestines. This is bound to inhibit your digestion. So perhaps consider saving the bubbly for either before or after your meal in the evening, rather than during the day time.
- Christmas pudding: a delicious part of Christmas, Christmas Pudding is also full of fruit and sugar. Rather than moving straight onto dessert after your meal, why not take some exercise and wait an hour or two before having a helping of pudding. That way the fruit will have a better chance of digesting easily. And a little can go a long way. Stick to fresh FRUIT instead. Especially if you’re on a diet.
- Brandy butter: the best part about Xmas pudding is the brandy butter, which is truly nothing more than sugar and alcohol. It’s the reason it’s so delectable. The problem is the most people have a little pudding with their brandy butter rather than the other way around.
- Roast potatoes: another favourite for some Christmas meals. Roast potatoes can be made less sinful if you don’t cover them in goose fat and salt.
- Stuffing: many people find the stuffing the best part of a turkey or chicken roast. Stuffing is largely made of white breadcrumbs, though, which doesn’t tick the healthy box.
- Other Christmas Cakes or Pies: few people say they really enjoy a cake covered with marzipan, but it’s traditional at Christmas. It’s also packed full of calories and fruit that is saturated with sugar, so limit yourself to a small slice. Xmas cake lasts for months, so pace yourself – you can eat this cake for a long time after Xmas.
- Mince pies: a delicious highlight at Xmas time. Mince pies are dripping with sugar and buttery pastry. However, they also freeze well. You might want to have one or two and put the rest away for a surprise many months later, on a cold winter’s day.
- The Yule log: some people love to take a chocolate cake and decorate it with icing, cherries, and holly. You don’t have to be told how much sugar you’ll be eating when you have a slice, so restrict your quota!
- All the Xmas treats: once presents are opened, there is always a liberal supply of chocolate, shortbread, and other delicacies. A good tip is to simply put these away for another time. There’s enough sinful food around already without adding to the stash.
From The George Institute, a recent study indicated some frightening findings….something to think about before you open, or send, a Christmas Hamper.
SINFUL Holiday Hamper Foods – BEST foods to AVOID if you want to stay in shape this Season
Here are recent study findings about SINFUL foods at Christmas, which show that comparison shopping can not only save you money – but calories!
Key findings of the George Institute for Global Health study
(Excerpted from http://www.georgeinstitute.org.au/media-releases/new-research-reveals-the-hidden-baddies-in-your-christmas-hamper)
- Woolworth’s Gold Indulgent Roasted Almond Shortbread: Found to have 62 times less sodium than Coles’ Shortbread Fingers.
- Hillier’s Milk Chocolate Coated Salted Caramel Peanuts: Found to contain 5 times more sodium (salt) than Woolworths Select Peanuts Chocolate Coated.
- Coles Rich Fruit Cake: lowest energy content of any cake surveyed; 3 x less saturated fat than Schultze Christstollen.
- Lindt’s Gourmet Truffles: double the trouble! Found to have almost twice the saturated fat of, for example, Oliviero Almond Chocolate Truffles.
- Emmalines’ Country Kitchen Christmas Pudding: Found to contain 580 more kJ/100g and 5 x more saturated fat than Coles Simply Gluten Free Christmas Pudding.
- All of the water crackers analysed have more salt than Smith’s BBQ Flavoured Chips with Coles Original Water Crackers topping the salt content.
- Mackay’s Cranberry Sauce has about 40 per cent more sugar and energy than Ocean Spray’s Whole Cranberry Sauce.
The 12 Virtues of Christmas or Holiday Meals: How to Stay a Bit Leaner This Holiday Season
- Keep it simple: avoid the sins of multiple dishes and several roasts. Choose one meat and have many, interesting dishes to accompany it. Too much choice is not always a good thing. Plus, there’s the cleaning up afterwards – never a fun thing to have to do when you’re cooked too many different dishes.
- Turkey: this is a great meal of lean meat that’s full of protein. It’s healthy and delicious, so unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian, tuck in. TOFU is your alternative but there are many others, also. Send us your list (send an enquiry form with your suggestions).
- Baked salmon: an alternative for the dinner table is a salmon served with sour cream or horseradish. In fact, any fish dish is filled with vitamin D and healthy fats, so is an excellent choice. Spoiling yourself with prawns is also good.
- Keep meats lean: cutting away the fat from the pork or ham will make your roast much healthier. Also, skim off the fat from the roasting pan before making the gravy.
- Eat slowly: we all have a hormone, leptin, that tells us when we’ve eaten enough. When you eat a lot really quickly, you are sometimes over-full before the hormone kicks in, so take your time and stop eating before your body has had more than it can handle.
- Eat small portions: the best way to have everything you love is to try it all, but eat really tiny amounts of each food at a sitting.
- Healthy treats: there are so many things available that will be good for you rather than the chocolates. Nuts are healthy and are a big part of Xmas. Berries, melons, olives, dried apricots, figs and asparagus are all wonderful ways to snack without being too sinful.
- Roast vegetables: these can be absolutely delicious, especially if glazed with honey, and are a healthy way of filling your plate. Vegetable kebabs are colourful and tasty.
- Seasonal fruit and vegetables: having fruit after a meal is much healthier than all the Xmas trimmings. Remember to leave time between the main meal and the fruit to aid digestion. Salads, of course, are another excellent way to fill up.
- Mince pies with phyllo pastry: a much healthier option than the butter rich pastry and almost as delicious.
- Choose one topping: if you must have Xmas pudding, choose either custard or cream or ice cream or brandy butter. Piling it all on will spoil the taste and play havoc with your digestion.
- Keep moving: the best way to deal with a large meal is to to exercise afterwards. Avoid the afternoon snooze that comes from too much food and alcohol. Huge meals often produce heartburn and discomfort, and exercise is the best way to counteract this. Take a long walk between the main meal and dessert. Children hate it when the adults all wander off for a nap – rather organize a game of cricket or something where everyone can join in. Better still, if it’s a hot day, go for a swim.
It is, of course, the holidays.
It comes around only once a year and there are certain foods you may have been looking forward to eating for several months.
So DO enjoy yourself and have fun, but be aware of the things you can do to avoid overindulging to the point you feel physically uncomfortable and mentally lethargic.
Choose great food, drink as much water as you do beer or other libations, and keep it all balanced by choosing as many healthy options as you possibly can. If you do, you’ll have happy memories of this festive season that aren’t all about indigestion or the pending imperative of starting a serious diet regime in January (or needing EnCurve fat reduction or a Tummy Tuck, Liposuction or other Body Contouring surgery).
Those are options, of course – but if you want to look your best at the beginning of 2017, weight gain prevention is worth a pound – or kilogram – of cure!
Happy Holidays and stay fit and healthy and safe!