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Festive Feast Without the Weight: Tips for a Healthy Christmas Period

This is the time of year when food and dieting really don’t mix. With rich foods on all the shelves and chocolate gifts appearing daily, how can we keep ourselves healthy during our festive feast and avoid weight gain?

1. Pick your foods carefully.

Not all foods are equal and the best way to keep the festive weight down is to not over do the calories. So when you go shopping for your festive feast, read the labels carefully. The main area you want to focus on are the sugars and you will see a small line under the “Carbohydrate” sections which says, “of which are sugars”. Now in an ideal world, you want this to be below 2g per 100g, but over Christmas this just won’t be possible. So instead opt for the product that has the lowest level of these sugars. For example one type of cranberry sauce may have 33g of sugar per 100g, but another kind may have 20g of sugar per 100g. They will taste exactly the same, but you are giving your body less sugar to deal with.

Sugars will turn to fat within the body if we don’t burn them off. Over the Christmas period we spend a lot of time sitting and less time active, so aren’t able to burn off the excess sugars we eat, this leads to festive weight gain.

2 – Spread your chocolate out.🍫

We all have far too much chocolate over Christmas and there is something wonderful about spending the afternoon watching a Christmas Film with a chocolatey accompaniment. So give your body a chance to deal with all that chocolatey fun and the inevitable festive weight gain, by spreading it out across the day. A big festive feast of chocolate will give you a sugar spike that your body won’t manage to cope with, and with the sofa sitting, it will not be burned off. So try spreading it out across the day so you don’t give your body such a big sugar hit and it gets a chance to burn some of the sugar away. If you are one of those people who spreads their chocolate out over the week, well done to you! I have personally never managed this, but this would be the best way to spread those calories.

If for you it is all about the eating on the day, then again, take a look at the labels. Dark chocolate is less sugary than Milk chocolate, and because it is richer, it is harder to eat as much. If you haven’t tried dark festive feast chocolate, it is well worth a go. 😀 They come in a wide array of flavours and are a definite decadent treat.

3 – Post Festive Feast exercise

So what can exercise bring to the equation. Well one of the best ways to burn off fat is with long duration, low exertion exercise….. otherwise known as a walk! Calories are burned when we walk and with exercise our circulating sugars are transported directly into our muscles. They don’t even need insulin to do this. This is one of the reasons exercise is so effective for diabetics. But what does this all mean for your Festive Feast?

Well, if you are able to build a walk into your day, this will really help you to burn off those calories. For those of you who have kids, this may be a necessity, to burn off some of that excitement and energy in your kids. For everyone else? Well Christmas Day is a wonderful time to head out for a walk. People are always friendly and you generally hear a “Merry Christmas” along the way. You could walk early, while the turkey is cooking, or after your food before the big sofa switch off. When you go is irrelevant, getting some calories burned off is the aim. Do be aware however, that if you head out for an early morning walk, you may find the world icy! Great for that festive feeling, but not so great if you take a tumble! We have some great tips for avoiding icy falls, so take a look here if you are planning an early morning walk.

4- How long do I need to Walk for?

This depends on what you want to achieve. It takes time for your body to work through it’s various energy systems so if you go for a short but maybe more vibrant walk, so your heart rate increases, you will burn off sugars quickly and effectively in even a 20 minute walk.

If you want to burn fats off, you will need to be walking for at least an hour at a slow and steady rate. This is because fat is the last element our body’s use for energy, they will utilise everything else (sugars first, carbohydrates second, proteins third) before resorting to your precious stores of fat. This comes from the days of famine, when your fat stores helped you to survive long periods of food shortages.

So if your festive feast was made up of lots of sugars and fatty foods, perhaps hit the road for a brisk walk for around an hour before you hit the sofa to fill up again on chocolates. 😀

So to avoid the festive feast weight gain, remember these top tips. Check the labels and choose lower calorie and sugared versions of the foods you love. Spread the sugary foods out across the day or the festive period, if you are able. And get up off the sofa and head out for a walk to burn off those calories and stop the sugars from turning to fat. Have a fabulous Festive Season whatever you are doing. 👍