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Top tips to keep festive fat off your waistline


Festive times can add the pounds

Festive times can add the pounds

Festive times can add the pounds

It's that time of year again where we eat, drink, and be merry! Cue the Christmas bulge and the mass flocking to the gym and the dieting section of Eason in the New Year.

Yes, it's a time of year where we're all more than entitled to let the hair down and to indulge in a few (tins of) Roses. But that doesn't mean we need to go to extremes that puts us in the depths of dieting despair in January.

It's possible to enjoy the holidays while also maintaining our sanity, keeping our waistlines intact, and without completely compromising our social status.

What not to do

l DON'T become a social recluse to avoid excess drinking and skip parties altogether to avoid food. It won't take long before your friends start to think you're an anti-social bore, or worse yet that you don't want to spend time with them.

l DON'T deprive yourself of some Christmas pudding. If you do, it will only be a matter of time before 'fear of missing out' kicks in and the vicious cycle of binging, guilt, and restriction and deprivation ensues.

l DON'T bring your own prepared rationed food to parties. While your new mantra recently has been "fail to prepare, prepare to fail" and you have more missing Tupperware lids than you have containers, now is not the time of year for 100pc compliance to your diet.

What to do instead

While you shouldn't bring broccoli in Tupperware to a party, don't fall into a trap of binging on all the junk food either.

The general thought process that dieters have goes something like this - "I've eaten three Roses, I've blown my diet, so now I may as well eat the whole tin to punish myself even further".

This sort of behaviour is common, but it's also destructive. It's a typical dieter's trap that people fall into. Instead, change your mind and find a balance.

l DO make better choices. They don't have to be the best choice, just a better choice than the worst choice. Instead of eating ALL the Roses, just eat SOME of the Roses.

l DO keep to a regular meal schedule. Ever sit down for Christmas dinner and realise that you're already full from snacking and grazing? Listen to your hunger cues and eat at regular intervals, instead of continuously grazing throughout the day just because the food is there.

l DO keep your meals to one plate. If you're satisfied after your meal then refrain from going for seconds. Instead of gobbling your meal down and reaching for seconds before you have even given yourself a chance to feel satisfied, take your time eating it. Slow down and savour the flavours, give your brain time to realise that you're full.

l DO enjoy your meals and Roses and don't feel guilty after. Allow yourself treats and give yourself permission to enjoy them. Give yourself the choice and watch the mental struggle disappear.

l DO go for lots of winter walks with family or friends. Or if you have a current exercise or gym routine then stick with it. A good dose of activity does wonders for a healthy waistline.

Battle of the Boozy Bulge

Silly season didn't get its name out of nowhere. Christmas is notorious for parties and celebrations with alcohol.

People forget that alcohol has calories. Big vast empty ones - it doesn't provide the body with any nutrients. The body sees alcohol as a toxin. So while it will never store alcohol directly as fat, the body will metabolise alcohol before food in an attempt to get rid of it from the body.

So any excess fatty foods that you eat when drinking alcohol will not get burnt off until the body first rids itself of the alcohol. Ultimately it's the excess fatty food that you eat when drinking alcohol that makes you fat.

Alcohol also reduces our inhibitions and increases our poor decision making skills, i.e. kebab at 2amy. However, life happens, and we must be realistic about alcohol.

Here are some tipsy tips about drinking over Christmas:

l Better food choices are key for not gaining an excess of body fat over the holidays. Choose lots of nutritious food such as lean protein, vegetables and some fruits to help keep you full.

l Keep fats low and eat very little oils, butter, nuts, and fatty meat.

l Make sure to stock up on your micronutrients by taking a multi-vitamin to help reduce the damage induced by alcohol.

l Alcohol is a diuretic so it makes you pee. Dehydration is one reason for feeling weak the day after so have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.

l Choose low calorie options such as vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon, and scotch on the rocks, or dry red or white wines. Cut spirits with soda water or slim-line tonic. Avoid sugary mixers.

Beer typically packs a punch when it comes to calories and wreaks havoc on your diet. However, if you insist, the paler ales typically carry fewer calories than dark larger.

The next morning, drink a litre of water, take a multivitamin, and go for a long walk.

A final note from me; be sensible and make the decision wisely to drink alcohol.

>Karen Coghlan

Karen is a nutrition coach and personal trainer and runs affordable online monthly nutrition coaching programmes. Visit her website www.thenutcoach.com or email karen@thenutcoach.com.