Are you one of those people that looks forward to Christmas and indulging in divine dinners, decadent desserts and fine wines? But also dread the thought of putting on weight by overindulging, not being able to stop yourself from having that last itsy bitsy mine pie or Christmas cake?
Well I’m going to share with you some information which may help you enjoy indulging and avoid putting on weight over Christmas.
Tip #1 on how to avoid putting on weight over Christmas is linked to the fact that our brain lies to us!
Yes, our very own personal mass of grey and white matter loves telling us things which aren’t true.
One of the key ways it does this is to tell us to eat more of that delicious cake, have another spoonful of cream or eat another chocolate, because it makes us feel goooood! Our brain tells us that we will feel happier one we’ve eaten more. When we do something pleasurable, the feeling we have is the reward created by the release of the hormone dopamine.
Dopamine is a really important hormone as it’s a big motivator to make us solve problems, to be curious, which in turn creates pleasure. However nature has built in a safety net; so that we aren’t rewarded for the same behaviour twice and so stay stuck, being unmotivated. It down regulates / switches off the dopamine receptors.
Therefore, it takes more stimulant than before to trigger dopamine and to reach the same level of pleasure. The more stimulant we have, the more the receptor sites close down and the more stimulant you crave…
This is how recreational drugs work. They trick the brain to release dopamine and then we have the desire to release even more and so take more of the drug….and the cycle continues.
This desire is the root of suffering. If you can become aware of it you will prevent the suffering.
So my first tip to not putting on weight over Christmas is don’t listen to your brain!
Seriously…be more aware of why you really want that extra dessert, roast potato. Are you hungry or are you feeling good and it’s simply dopamine playing its trick?
How to avoid putting on weight over Christmas; Eat protein with every meal.
That includes breakfast! You may be a super green smoothie kinda gal but you need protein to slow down the release of the carbs and keep your blood sugar stable. Otherwise you’ll simply feel hungry an hour or 2 later.
Try adding protein powders to your smoothies (they’re practically tasteless). But hey it’s Christmas Day! You may not want a smoothie for breakfast – so maybe try some eggs or porridge with fresh fruit.
You may be thinking that you’re going to be ‘good’ and have a salad at some point – good for you! However, eating a meal that’s high in carbs and low in protein can spike your blood sugar. This means your blood sugar drops rapidly soon after eating and you feel hungry again.
Also, although you may have had a huge plate of food, and feel full, you may still feel hungry. This is because you may not have consumed enough calories.
You’re soon become aware of all the temptations surrounding you; from the tub of quality street by the TV to the mince pies in the kitchen.
To not put on weight at Christmas try adding something more substantial such as fish, meat or dairy protein or if you’re a veggie, legumes ( which are also a great source of resistant starch which helps keep blood sugar level).
You can also / or add some healthy fats such as avocado, hummus, nut butters, cheese, nuts or seeds . This should help keep the hunger pangs a bay and your hands of the treats.
Tip #3 on how to avoid putting on weight over Christmas is eat more slowly.
So it may be a family battle for getting the last amazing looking roast spud or getting some sprouts before aunt Mabel squirrels them away on her plate – but by eating slower you allow your stomach to tell your brain that your full.
Chew each mouthful – use those teeth! Break your food down properly using all those amazing enzymes you have in your mouth and so you swallow easily digested food – not lumps that your poor stomach has to work so hard at trying to break down using just chemicals.
This will make you feel less bloated and uncomfortable post dinner too.
You also get to really taste and enjoy the food…after all someone, if not you, has taken a great deal of time and effort to get the dinner together so why not take time to appreciate and enjoy every morsel of it?
Tip #4 on how to avoid putting on weight over Christmas; Drink water!
It’s more tempting to have that bucks fizz for breakfast and that fabulous bottle of wine with dinner. Oh and a dessert wine? Oh go on then…
Yes these are empty calories but I think as long as you don’t drink to excess and end up with a hangover the next day, a drink now and then isn’t bad for the soul. However alcohol is a huge dehydrator and puts a great deal of stress on the liver. So drink water – at least 1.8 litres per day – it sounds like a lot but it’s not. First thing in the morning try having a cup of hot water and lemon (with a ¼ cold water so as not to destroy the lemon goodness) to help re-hydrate and detox ready for the day ahead.
Keep a glass of water by you in the kitchen as you cook and as you knock back, sorry I mean sip… that glass of cooking red :). Have a bottle of water in the living room by your chair for while you’re watching that Christmas blockbuster. Take a big glass to bed with you…if you keep it easy to hand you’re more likely to drink it.
Drinking water will also reduce hunger cravings as sometimes that’s all your body wants…a drink of water!
Tip#5 on how to avoid putting on weight over Christmas; Do know that you can eat a whole tub of Roses or Quality Street?
Or that you can dive into the cake and ice cream to your heart’s content, even have more than one bowl? You can have one piece of that whole family sized bar of dairy milk or eat the lot …you sure can…but will it make you feel good?
Will it nourish your body and give you the energy to enjoy the rest of the day? You have a choice. It’s that simple. Don’t deny yourself anything. Choose to do what’s best for you and your body. Do what makes your body feel great and so makes you feel great about yourself. After all you and your body are going to spend a life time together!
Wishing you all a wonderful and peaceful Christmas. Here’s to sharing exciting discoveries and adventures with you in 2017!
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not put on weight at Christmas.
Photo thanks to Darren Coleshill