How a dietitian avoids silly season weight gain

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After two challenging years it seems only right that we fully embrace this festive season. The only issue is that whenever we have events or parties we inevitably find it more challenging to keep our calories under control and our weight on track.

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Generally speaking, the food served at events is relatively high in calories, it can be challenging to find lighter, healthier options, and then there is the alcohol, which packs a serious calorie punch. The good news is that there is a way to strike a balance between enjoying yourself socially over the next few weeks, and keeping your weight under control.

All you need to know is a few, simple diet tricks of the trade…

Dietitian Susie Burrell
Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist and co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast. (9Honey)

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Never go to a party hungry

This may sound counterintuitive but one of the issues with parties and the foods that are commonly served is that they are so easy to overeat. Pastry-based pies and quiches, and fried canapes contain at least 100 calories per serve, which means that enjoying just a few morsels very quickly adds up to give you more than a meal’s worth of calories, and you often don’t realise you’ve eaten at all.

On the other hand, making a concerted effort to have a substantial snack or light meal — like some tuna and salad, Greek yoghurt with berries or nuts or crackers with cheese and vegetables — an hour or two before your event will help to take the edge off your hunger. Then, when you arrive at the party you will be in a much better position to make good food decisions rather than accepting even canape you are offered.

READ NEXT: Healthy food swaps for Christmas

Stand away from the food

One of the most significant predictors of food consumption is availability, which means that you will eat a lot more if you are standing near the food, than if you have to make an effort to find yourself a snack. This is not to discourage you from eating altogether, rather remain mindful of your food choices rather than immediately accepting what is offered.

Avoid anything fried

Chicken wings, arancini balls, spring rolls, falafel, zucchini flowers, fries and wedges all have one thing in common… they are deep fried and likely in processed vegetable oil. Not only does this make these foods exceptionally easy to overeat, but nutritionally they offer very little other than a hearty dose of fat and calories.

Making a blanket rule of avoiding any fried food this holiday season will go a long way in keeping your overall calorie intake controlled, and make the decision of what to eat and what to avoid at parties a whole lot easier.

There is no need to feel guilty for enjoying your favourite Christmas food and drinks, rather learning to buffer periods of over consumption…

Commit to your training

Party season is not the time to ditch training, rather it is a perfect time to ramp things up to help buffer the extra food and drink of the season. Make it a priority to stick with your gym or training schedule, and to walk as much as you can. Not only will this commitment keep you on top of your fitness, but it will help to buffer the effects of more indulgent eating and drinking.

Learn the art of buffering

At times we will all indulge in heavier foods and high-calorie meals, and it is not the one-off meals and occasions that cause issues with our weight. Rather, it is consistent periods of overeating that sees weight gain over time. This means that there is no need to feel guilty for enjoying your favourite Christmas food and drinks, rather learning to buffer periods of over consumption with lighter meals is the key to weight control.

This means that over the next couple of months, committing to a light or fasting day each week, or a regular light meal or soup, salad or a shake is an easy and effective way to keep your overall calorie intake controlled after a massive night or even entire weekend of overeating and drinking.

You can do it!

Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.

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