Healthier ways to enjoy festive foods and drinks these holidays
Many people associate Christmas time with excessive eating and drinking especially with all the delicious festive foods on offer.
If you’re worried about eating or drinking too much over the party season, the good news is there are ways to manage your food and drink consumption so you don’t hinder your weight loss plans – plus still have fun!
We know that if you are following a healthy eating plan you may be wondering exactly what is the best option in terms of calories for your festive tipple. See our guide below.
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Tips to enjoy the festive foods this holiday season without overindulging
1. Don’t arrive ravenous
There’s nothing like extreme hunger to test anyone’s willpower.
If you arrive at a gathering hungry you are far more likely to end up overdoing it on alcohol, plus whatever food happens to be served first (which tends to be pastry or batter covered).
Try to prepare for this by having a nutritious snack before you arrive, such as a banana, yoghurt, some trail mix or a Healthy Man Meal Replacement shake (especially if you know there won’t be the main meal served).
2. Don’t stand near the food or the bar
Try to keep busy chatting with people away from the snacks, and avoid the tendency to overeat just for something to do with your hands.
Grab a glass of water so that your hands are busy if that helps.
3. Choose your drinks wisely
Free drinks can be a killer for willpower. Especially large, creamy, sugary drinks with umbrellas in them.
If you do fancy a cocktail it’s best to go for something icy rather than creamy, and one that is flavoured with fresh fruit is better than something packed with syrups or cordials. Think Mojito (160 cal) instead of a Creamy Midori Splice (370 cal).
A great option is to enjoy a glass of white wine or champagne with some sparkling water in it. You still enjoy the flavour but it drastically reduces your alcohol and calorie intake. Plus no one will know that you are being drink-smart.
4. Avoid anything deep-fried, buttery or creamy
There is, for some reason, a tendency for people to think that everyone needs more batter and mayonnaise in their life at social occasions.
Snacks such as deep-fried prawns, sausage rolls, creamy dips and spring rolls abound on canapé trays all over the country. These are best avoided – unless you know they are a healthier recipe. Try filling up on healthy options such as carrot sticks and hummus instead, a small amount of cheese, or some fresh fruit.
5. Try to source the better choices in the food department
Your best bet is to fill up on better options such as quiches, rice paper rolls, fresh fruit, bruschetta, sandwiches on wholegrain bread, smoked salmon, meatballs and sushi.
Check out this healthy Christmas Ham!
6. Set yourself some limits
If you find you don’t have an ‘off’ button for the drinks or food at the party, it can help to set yourself a number of each that you will have.
That way you can still be a part of the event and enjoy yourself, but if you reach your 3-drink or 4-canape limit then this might help you to keep yourself in check and not overdo it.
7. Don’t overfill your plate
If there is a buffet or a sit-down meal, try your best to keep your portions in check.
It’s easy to get carried away when you want to try everything, but remember that this is not your last meal and that you are trying to be healthy (so best to take the extra dinner roll out of your purse).
8. Watch the sauces and dressings
There is nothing that can undo your great choices faster than a creamy sauce or high-fat salad dressing. If in doubt, leave it out and go for a splash of olive oil for your salad or some mustard for your roast beef.
9. Have a line or two ready for over-eager waiters
If you are one of those people that find it hard to say no to a smiling waiter with a tray of party pies, it pays to be organised.
There’s no need for you to give them your life story, a simple line such as “They look great, but I’m all set thanks” or “I’m fine for now” will suffice.
How to find the lowest calorie drinks
When you are trying to lose weight, choosing the better option from the bar can be confusing. With all the low carb beers, low alcohol wines, not to mention the offers of fruity cocktails – it can start to feel like there are too many choices.
Of course, it’s not just calories you want to keep an eye on with your alcoholic drinks – sugar is another one to watch. Many drinks (even the non-sweet ones) contain sugar (due to the fermentation process, as well as added sugar in others) so it’s important to take note of that as well.
When it comes to beer, it’s pretty easy to remember – the lower the alcohol content, the lower the calories. The alcohol content is more important than whether the beer claims to be ‘low carb’ or not.
So if you fancy a couple of drinks at a BBQ, light beer is a good choice as it comes in at 100 calories for a 375ml serve (compared to 145 cal for a full-strength).
A typical glass of wine comes in at 90 calories for a 120ml serve. It’s important to note that wine is much stronger than beer (around 12% for wine compared to 4.8% for beer) so be careful not to overdo it.
You may try enjoying a wine spritzer – which is half wine (or try half champagne) and half sparkling water. You still enjoy the taste of the wine, but it helps to keep you hydrated and clear-headed (including the next morning).
Once again there is a big jump in the strength of spirits with most coming in around the 40% mark.
While a single 30ml nip of vodka or scotch contains around 65 calories, it’s the mixers that you need to keep an eye on.
Topping up your rum with a 375ml Coca Cola will add a further 161 calories (and almost 10 teaspoons of sugar!). Ginger beer and lemonade are not much better at 165 cal and 124 cal respectively.
Juice is another one that people often mistake as being a great choice for a mixer. But the 200ml of pineapple juice adds 100 calories and plenty of sugar to your drink too.
Processed juice from a container often has added sugar (as well as natural sugars) so are best avoided if you can.
The better choices? Go for soda water with some fresh lime – soda contains 0 calories and 0 sugar.
Also, why not try adding just a splash of juice to your spirit and then topping up with sparkling water?
You could also try some diet soft drinks – they aren’t an everyday option by any means (as they contain sweeteners and numerous additives) but they are much lower calorie and lower in sugar than their full strength counterparts. And don’t be fooled into thinking that tonic water is a healthier choice – it’s very sugary and high in calories too.
Watch your portion sizes – just like you do with your food, be sure not to overpour your drinks as they can quickly add up.
Alternate alcoholic drinks with water – it will help you in the morning as well as keep you in control
Drinks to avoid include creamy cocktails (they are often huge and filled with, of course, cream), creamy drinks like Baileys, cocktails made with sugar syrup, pre-mixed drinks such as Breezers (as they pack a punch with sugar and calories too).
Set yourself a limit – if you are going to a party why not tell yourself that you will enjoy 3 drinks and that’s it. The same goes with the canapés!
Instead of making fruity punch, why not make a healthy iced tea, it’s super low calorie as well as being refreshing when served over ice.
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