Cheat meals during Christmas?!

It’s that magnificent time of year again, where we don our ugliest Christmas jumper, get together with our loved ones around the tree, fill our bellies with minced pies and mulled wine and rejoice in all the splendour and overindulgence that Christmas has to offer. It really is wondrous! But with all highs in life, there are the lows, and Christmas is no exception. The gluttony of the festive period is followed by the New Year’s resolutions of diets, exercise regimes, quitting cigarettes, alcohol and fun in general, in an attempt to become a better looking, slimmer, healthier, version of yourself.

The Christmas holidays can create quite the moral dilemma for the health conscious among us, as the average person consumes approx 6000 calories on Christmas Day alone. Given that the recommended healthy average intake is 2000 calories for woman and 2500 calories for men, this is a potential weight gain of 1lb in just one day. This highlights the magnitude of the potential weight gain which can happen over Christmas and New Year holidays. So, is it better to stick to your diet over Christmas, and just have a cheat meal instead?

The problem with cheat meals over Christmas is where to stop. Is a cheat meal just one meal or is it the full day? For some, the holiday period can last for the whole week between Christmas and New Years. You can do a lot of damage to your diet in two weeks, especially if your goal is weight loss. The best combination would ideally be to find a way to introduce all your favourite meals into your diet without increasing the calories too much. However, the majority of yummy foods on the table at Christmas wouldn’t be nearly as yummy or indulgent in the diet version! And who wants to restrict portion sizes during the jolliest time of the year! So how can we solve this conundrum?

Should you cheat on your diet over Christmas?

Yes and no! It can actually be really beneficial to introduce a few days of relaxed eating into your dieting schedule. Not only does it mean that you can enjoy all your favourite foods and your diet doesn’t feel quite so onerous, but it can actually help to kick your metabolism into gear. Coupled with some intense exercise afterwards this can be a great way of maximising your metabolism, giving your muscles some extra carbohydrate to replenish stores and provide the energy to give your workout some extra oomph!

In addition, the formation of new fat doesn’t happen right away, it takes a couple of days of overeating before your body starts to lay down new fat tissue. Until then, it is an easily accessed abundance of energy, perfect for an intense workout. So yes, you absolutely should enjoy yourself for two or three days over Christmas! Yey!

However, this does not mean that you should binge eat for a week. This is where the damage can be done, as Christmas foods aren’t just high fat and sugar, but the quantity in which they are eaten is where the real problem lies. After all, there’s only so much exercise you can do to combat those extra calories. So, here are a few tips for surviving Christmas in the same jean size!

Dining out – If you know you’re eating out or having a big meal that day, eat lighter meals the rest of the day to minimise any extra unnecessary calories.

Christmas choccies – We are all guilty of giving chocolate as a gift, it’s an easy option and most people love it. If you have received multiple boxes this year, consider sharing them around with family members and friends. Alternatively, take the extras into work to share or donate them to charity raffles to raise money. If you insist on keeping them, only open one box at a time, they don’t need to be eaten all at once.

The Buffet – Enjoy it but limit yourself to one or two plates, then avoid it! Sit as far away as possible, so you not hovering and snacking continually though the evening.

Office snacks – Colleagues kindly treating you to minced pies, chocolates and Christmas goodies throughout the whole of December can be hard to resist. Try to limit this to one day a week if possible, otherwise habits can set in that can be hard to shift later.

Turkey – Turkey is actually one of the leaner meats and is a good source of protein. Most of the fat in the turkey will be in the skin, so you could remove this before carving to reduce calories. You could try making the gravy with a stock rather than meat juices to reduce the fat content of the dinner without much effort.

Portions – Aim for a third of your plate to be vegetables, this will reduce the calories and up the nutrition. Don’t overcook the vegetables, as the nutrients will leak out into the water.

Alcohol – We all drink a little more than usual at Christmas, but it doesn’t need to be too calorific if you avoid the sugary sweet cocktails and creamy liquors. Instead, chose spirits with a sugar free mixer or a medium/dry wine. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to rehydrate.

Eat, drink and be merry – Just remember to stop eating when you’re full and try to limit yourself to a few days, rather than two weeks. Most importantly, enjoy yourself over the holiday period. So, eat the tasty foods and drink the yummy drinks. We will see you in the New Year for the resolutions!

Body Chief wish you a Very Merry Christmas!

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