Visit any supermarket and it’s like some sort of junk food frenzy with giant boxes of crisps, metre long tubes of chocolates and enough discounted booze to fill the Thames. Where have all the normal foods gone and why do we suddenly need to buy the amount of sugar to fuel a journey to the moon?
Research shows that people put on about 5lb over the festive period and never lose it all. Think about it, it takes around half an hour of running (roughly 3 miles) to burn off 300 calories. That’s about one mince pie or a glass of mulled wine. If you’re snacking on Christmas canapés, overdoing the prosecco or indulging in chocolates it’s easy to see how the weight can pile on.
Without being all scrooge about it (I like to overdo the prosecco and have been known to stalk waiters with canapés) what steps can we take to protect our health and waistlines whilst still enjoying ourselves?
1. Keep your blood sugar balanced
It’s the cornerstone to reaching and maintaining optimum health, weight and vitality. Add to that it can control cravings, reduce hangovers and vastly increase energy levels; this is number one on my to-do list at Christmas time. You can read about it here but in a nutshell it’s always combining carbs with protein (especially important at breakfast, which you should never skip however hungover) making sure the carbs you do eat are whole-grains and avoiding sugary drinks and caffeine which spike your sugar levels and then crash them back down. Our spiced nuts are a great snack to have with a few drinks and they help slow the impact on sugar levels.
2. Stay hydrated
A major part of hangovers is dehydration. Alternating a glass of water with every alcoholic drink helps minimise the danger, as does opting for spritzers. A good cure after a night out is coconut water which is rich in electrolytes so helps replace those lost through alcohol.
Studies show that drinking water before meals can enhance weight loss as it tricks your brain into thinking you’ve eaten a whole lot more so you’re far less likely to binge if you stay hydrated. Why not give our infused waters a try, it’s a great way to get all the family drinking more and they taste delicious.
3. Eat the right fats
Choosing essential fats can help you lose weight and stop bingeing as fat keeps you fuller for longer. They can also boost your metabolism, helping you burn unwanted fat. The best sources are oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, anchovies), nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil and lean, grass-fed meats.
Why not try offering nuts, mackerel pate and salmon on rye bread as canapés, adding seeds to porridge and smoothies and eating our avocado and mackerel bruschetta for a hearty, hangover-busting breakfast.
4. Love your liver
Rich foods and alcohol take their toll on the liver. B vitamins and vitamin C help the liver detoxify alcohol, so it’s a good idea to eat foods rich in these and supplement to make up for losses through drinking.
A generous intake of antioxidants helps mop up excess toxins, taking the stress off your liver and help bring your energy levels up. Antioxidants are found in fruit and vegetables, the more colourful the better. A super quick way to get an instant hit of nutrients from veg is to make juices or smoothies. They take moments to prepare and ensure you’re packing in as much of the good stuff as you can.
It’s actually simple to incorporate lots of liver-supportive compounds into festive foods. Crudités with powerful veg such as cauliflower, radishes, fennel, peppers, chicory, celery and carrots; kale chips, artichoke dips, veg crisps and seaweed squares are especially nourishing.
We’re all undoubtedly going to be splurging on extra calories in the coming weeks. Exercise does help to shift some of these but it’s not a license to go mad. A festive latte may give you five minutes of comfort but how comfortable will you feel with over an hour of intense exercise to burn it off? It’s worth having an idea of roughly how many calories are in your favourite treats. Some popular coffees can contain over 60 grams of sugar and rack in at over 500 calories.
Weight control is about balancing the calories you eat with those you burn but it’s so easy to spiral out of calorie control when the temptation is everywhere. Just make sure you are filling up on the good stuff before surrounding yourself with temptation and you can stay healthy and energised throughout the holidays.
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