Christmas Eating: How to have the treats but avoid the weight gain

Xmas tree

According to today’s Daily Express, a study by the company Healthspan found that we will on average consume over 19,000 extra calories in December than in other months. No wonder most of us gain weight during the festive season!

According to the Healthspan study, “A near-constant stream of chocolate, mince pies and alcohol means the typical adult’s calorie intake will soar by more than 28%”.  And the excess often leads to regret: 83% of people report feeling sluggish and a third say they actually feel ill after their over-indulgence.

The problem is that we have the treats on top of our normal food intake. We continue with our regular three meals a day and add the nibbles and party food on top. Here’s the clue to enjoying the special foods and drinks without gaining weight during the festive season. Over Christmas and New Year, on any days which involve parties or tubs of chocolates in the office, go ahead and have the festive treats. But change your regular meals to vegetable-only meals.

The beauty of a vegetable-only meal is that it is light, easily digested and lower in calories than “balanced” meals which include additional carbohydrates and protein. It doesn’t need to be large, in fact a large plate of vegetables will leave you feeling as stuffed as a large plate of anything, although it will be digested more quickly. Just having a smallish plate of veg instead of a meal is a hugely helpful way to balance the excess. And can be really tasty….

If you’re struggling to work out how, you may feel like Judy Finnigan, who asked in today’s Daily Express,

“I know anyone can buy and cook vegetables but how do we make them taste appealing? Every time I look at a vegetarian cookbook the sheer number of ingredients terrifies me. It all seems like such bloody hard work….

Richard and I have just returned from Australia, and in the three weeks we were there we did not once eat meat. Australian food was so light and fresh that we felt much healthier. I know I could find all the ingredients here in the UK if I put my mind to it but in a busy life we go to our usual supermarket and buy the usual stuff”.

Appetite Retraining can help here.  The simplest, quickest and cheapest way to a tasty veg-only meal is to choose your favourite vegetable and your favourite savoury sauce and have the two together. The combinations you come up with may not appeal to everyone, but the chances are that you will love them. My favourites are cauliflower in a specific curry sauce (I buy this ready-made), leeks in cheese sauce (when I have time to make my favourite cheese sauce recipe) or spinach with lemon juice and black pepper. Don’t worry if these leave you cold. Try your own favourite veg + sauce combination and post it on twitter 

Not gaining extra pounds over christmas isn’t as difficult as it may seem!


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