How to curb your Christmas carb cravings and wave those mince pies away

We all tend to overindulge during the holiday season and throw our strict diets to the curb the minute we go into holiday mode. But it is possible to strike a balance between allowing yourself the odd treat when you’re celebrating with family and friends, and overindulging in the festive spreads that end of year functions always bring.

Naazneen Khan, Nutrition, Health and Wellness manager at Nestlé South Africa shares her top 10 tips on how you can enjoy the best of both worlds and not feel deprived when you wave those mince pies away:

1)      Grocery shopping with a purpose

Planning your meals helps you not to overeat. Never go shopping on an empty stomach because you will end up putting all of the festive snacks that colour the food isles at this time of the year into your shopping trolley. Create a balanced shopping list and have a few delicious but healthy snacks in your cupboard such as fruit and popcorn.

2)      Do not starve yourself or skip meals

Skipping meals will only cause you to eat larger fewer meals and slow down your metabolism. Once your metabolism is slow, you will be at a greater risk of gaining weight. Eating small frequent meals will help you keep going and not overindulge. Eat a small snack before you leave home so that you do not arrive at the function feeling very hungry.

3)      Work the room, not the waiters

Don’t sample every canapé that the waiter brings your way. View festive season gatherings as opportunities to socialise and meet new people. Do not focus too much on the food offerings. If it is a ‘bring and share’ event, always offer to bring a healthier meal such as vegetables or a salad.

4)      Tone down your favourite tipple

Eat a balanced meal before you consume alcohol and drink water between alcoholic drinks. This will help you take in fewer calories and prevent you from getting too tipsy. When you’ve had one too many, you stop being mindful of how much you are eating.

5)      Start the evening on a healthy note

Try and make sure that your starter is mainly vegetables, nuts or fruit. Limit fried foods or processed meats such as sausages, ham and polony wherever possible.

6)      Select a smaller plate

A smaller plate will help you dish up smaller food portions. Fill half your plate with vegetables or salads, one quarter with starch (the size of your fist) and another quarter with protein such as meat or beans. Eat as slowly as possible to allow your body to know when you are full. Eating very fast does not allow the body to send a signal to let you know that you are full.

7)      Dance the night away

Make the most of the whole family coming together during the festive season. Organise a group walk in the mornings and dance as much as you can at the family gatherings. Not only will it put a smile on your face, the walking and dancing will help you burn excess calories too.

8)      Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Instead of grabbing a sugary drink when you first arrive at a gathering, grab a glass of water and walk around to socialise and meet new people. Hold water with your dominant hand so that you are not tempted to grab finger foods.

9)      Everything in moderation

Eat the following in small amounts and less often: creamy vegetables, creamy sauces, fried foods, cheese, cream, cookies, cakes, pies and pastries.

10)   Small dollops of desserts and dressing

Don’t deprive yourself. Have a small piece of dessert with a bigger portion of fruit salad. When preparing your desserts, replace cream with low fat milk. Go easy on creamy salad dressings as they are loaded with fat.

“Remember to be realistic about breaking a few diet rules here and there and forgive yourself if you overeat,” says Khan.

If you’re serious about your health and want to start the New Year afresh with your personal nutritional and wellness goals in mind, take the Welnes IQ test at www.welnesiq.org and test your health knowledge.

For more information and helpful tips visit the Nutrition, Health & Wellness tab on Nestlé’s website: www.nestle.co.za/nhw. Here you’ll find tips on how to read food labels and handy tools to calculate your Body Mass Index and measure your Waist Hip Ratio.

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