Christmas food might just be our favourite part of the festive season (cheese boards and mince pies?! Yes please…), but we always end up regretting the overindulgence when our one size pjyamas feel a little snug come January.
If you’re social calendar is bulging but you want to keep your cravings in check, Lifesum’s in-house nutritionist Frida Harju shared her top tips for how to manage the party buffet this Christmas. Napkins at the ready...
First of all, why do we overindulge at Christmas?
Food at Christmas parties is often laid out buffet-style, which means as you socialise, you’re tempted to graze. Once I’ve chosen my party plate, I make sure I move away from the platters so I’m not tempted. Also, eat something before you get there to curb cravings.
What should we eat for breakfast on party days then?
I recommend eggs with some fresh spinach leaves, which will leave you energised and control your appetite. If you don’t feel like eggs, porridge with chia or flax seeds is also a good option to kick start the day.
And for lunch?
Foods that are rich in fibre, like courgette, cauliflower, aubergine and cabbage will make you feel fuller without the calories. You could try cauliflower rice or courgetti spaghetti instead of ordinary rice and white pasta. Try and add protein, too; chicken, turkey and tuna are the best options. You’ll also find greens like kale and brussel sprouts are full of fibre and antioxidants. Substitute sweets with fresh and dry fruit, or a handful of nuts.
Which party food is the most calorific?
A handful of crisps has 155 calories, and luxurious trifles can have as many as 230 calories. Cream and cheese dips are also calorific, with over 100 calories compared 20 in a few spoonfuls of salsa. Try to avoid ‘empty’ calories, like sugary treats!
Snacks with less pastry are healthier. Open-top mince pies are slightly healthier, and sausages that aren’t wrapped in pastry or bacon. Naturally, satsumas are a festive and very healthy snack!
A classic stocking filler. What should we drink to stop eating so much?
Definitely water! Have 1-2 glasses before your meal, as the majority of the time that we feel hungry we are actually thirsty. Drinking alcohol also makes you dehydrated, meaning you reach for unhealthy foods the next day, so alternate each alcoholic drink with water.
Do smaller plates really work?
Research from the University of Cambridge suggests so! The smaller the plate, the less likely you are to overeat. But if there’s only big plates available, fill them up with vegetables, which will also leave you feeling fuller for longer. Try to just make two rounds of the buffet table – one for the mains and one for desert.
If we’re still hungry when we get home, what should we eat?
Think carefully if you’re actually hungry, as you might just be thirsty. If you are hungry, a banana will fill you up and be relaxing at the same time, as it contains both potassium and magnesium, which work as muscle relaxants. A handful of almonds if also a great choice, as they are full of protein, as well as magnesium and tryptophan which also help you relax.
Ok, we tried, but we still overate… What should we do the next day?
Don’t be tempted to skip exercise… You might feel a little fragile, but it doesn’t have to be a heavy work-out. You’ll feel much better for doing at least 20 minutes of low impact exercise. Don’t cut down on food, though – you’ll only end up caving and grabbing something unhealthy to replenish energy levels. Eat as you normally would and drink lots of water to clear your body; Christmas foods can often be salty and leave you feeling bloated.