Christmas. The one time of year when everyone goes calorie crazy. You’ve worked hard all year and now your cupboard bulges with festive treats and indulgent delights; besides who actually cares how many calories there are in three (OK, five) pigs in blankets? So what if you could have half a bucket of sprouts for the same number of calories in a mince pie – bring on both!
Then the inevitable happens. December turns to January, and either your favourite jeans and shirt have magically shrunk two sizes, or there’s just more square inches trying to squeeze into them. Diet season returns.
But stop right there. Don’t think because it’s January you’ll get away with no more eating, oh no. There’s always one friend (usually more than one actually) who has a birthday in January, or someone at work announces their engagement/pregnancy/retirement. Before you know it, the angel and devil on each shoulder are arguing over whether you really are that fat after all, and whether you can just have one, maybe two, teensy weensy nights of ignoring the FitBit.
The good news is, you’re not alone. By making a few simple but savvy choices there’s no reason to miss out – or blow the calorie budget.
1) Choose your restaurant wisely
OK, so this could be tricky if you’re not the one actually arranging the venue. But if you are, do your homework. Research smaller restaurants where you can request different choices or ask for ingredients to be added or left out. It’s also worth considering somewhere with a salad bar, so you can still enjoy a full plate without it being loaded with calories and additives.
2) Avoid salt and MSG
Thinking of a Chinese? Asian cooking usually contains a high amount of salt and MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). Whilst tasting delicious, it can really make you thirsty and encourage bloating and water retention which has a scary effect on the bathroom scales. If you can avoid salty or fried items, all the better.
3) Limit your carbs
It’s so easy to underestimate how much rice or pasta is on your plate. The same goes for starchy food like potatoes. Sticking to three tablespoons of either is plenty to fill you up and avoid you feeling deprived. Why not offer to share with the person next to you?
4) Mind your drink
Alcohol, particularly wine and beer, are very calorific. Switch fizzy drinks for water, iced teas, fruit juices or herbal teas. If abstaining altogether is just not possible, try a refreshing lime and tequila, or gin and tonic – same effect, fewer calories.
5) Steer clear of heavy sauces and dressings
Pretty self-explanatory. Salad cream, oily dressings, gravy and cheesy or creamy sauces are likely to be loaded with fat and calories. Opt for ingredients like balsamic or cider vinegar, or very small amounts of coconut or olive oil. You could even take along your own pre-mixed dressing – we bet no one will even notice!
6) Keep it simple
Go for steamed fish, grilled chicken, plenty of vegetables and salad… simple, unprocessed food that you’d cook for yourself at home. The more ingredients a dish has, the harder it is to know exactly what’s in it, and how many calories you’re consuming.
Most of all, have fun – and look forward to a healthier, happier new you!