LAURA WARREN: 8 simple steps to help you beat the festive battle of the bulge
The holiday season, thank God, is almost upon us. And so, of course, is the usual annual splurge of overeating and drinking too much that invariably leaves us with a bad dose of the January blues in the New Year.
Now, dear readers, I’m not trying to be a killjoy and as anyone who knows me can confirm – nobody loves her grub as much as your Auntie Laura!
On the contrary, I’m just here to give you a few simple tips on how to beat the inevitable New Year battle of the bulge so you don’t have to start January with a bang of post-overload depression.
Christmas, of course, is traditionally the time of year when we all go stark raving mad, especially when it comes to food and drink. According to statistics, 75% of annual weight gain occurs over the Christmas.
The good news is that there are loads of ways you can cut down on the bad carbs and unnecessary weight gain over the festive period. Here’s a few of my favourite Christmas ‘food swaps’ you can recommend to your family or friends:
(1) Dip, the healthy way
Basically, ditch the mayo! I know, I know … I love my mayo too, but it’s overloaded with bad carb calories. An Avocado dip is a far healthier option, and you can easily put your own delicious dip together my robbing my ‘signature’ blend (which I, of course, have ‘liberated’ from other sources …)
All you need is:
- 1 Avocado
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- A pinch of garlic powder
- ¼ cup of Greek yogurt
- Squeeze of lime juice to taste
Then all you have to do is:
(1) Mash up the avocado with a fork and mix in the lime juice, garlic powder and salt and yoghurt;
(2) Adjust to taste and Voilà! – in literally three minutes you have a delicious healthy dip. Avocados are also full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, instead of trans fats which are found in mayonnaise.
(2) Fizz up your drinks!
Choose wine spritzers instead of cocktails or wine. Mix your wine (half and half) with a sparkling water. This will allow you to enjoy the wine you love without all the calories and alcohol. It’s delicious and you’ll stay hydrated in the process as alcohol can be very dehydrating on the body and your skin. And, of course, your hangover will be a lot more manageable!
(3) Go dark with the choccies
Opt for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is much richer and a little goes a long away. If you open up those boxes of Roses you know what’s going to happen – you’re going to keep scoffing them till all your favourite ones are gone, putting you in a sugar coma and leaving you feeling sluggish and depressed. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants that can improve your heart and cognitive health.
(4) Swop butter for coconut oil
Coconut oil is a health fat that can promote better health, weight loss and give you better cholesterol levels. It’s also a good plant-based alternative for those of you who want to limit your consumption of animal products.
(5) Go crackers!
Swop your bread rolls for crackers: dinner rolls and salad rolls are delicious, but they are going to give you a big tummy if you don’t eat them in moderation. Instead try whole wheat or gluten free crackers, which are a much lower in calories. Crackers are also delicious with that avocado dip!
(6) Go easy on the spuds …
This one will probably horrify many of ye but try to swop the spuds for cauliflower rice. We Irish love our spuds, but if not eaten in moderation they will spike your insulin levels and raise your blood sugar level, leading to weight gain which is very hard to shake off. Try roasting a head of cauliflower for 35 minutes. For the last 15 minutes, sprinkle some of your favourite cheddar cheese all over: the cheese will melt into the cauliflower and you won’t even miss the spuds, I swear! It’s delicious and very low in calories. But don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.
(7) Just desserts
Ditch your traditional calorie-filled desserts for Greek style yoghurt with a spoon of natural honey and a few berries. Yum.
(8) Festive breakfast
Easier said than done, but try to replace your traditional Irish fry with scrambled, poached or boiled eggs served with turkey rashers and sausages, and maybe with mushrooms and tomatoes. You won’t even miss the bread!
People say you should continue to exercise, but lets’ face it: we’re human and it’s a lot easier said than done over the dark Christmas nights. My advice it to keep it simple: try to get a brisk 15-minute walk in after meal time and your waistline will thank you when the holiday season is but a memory and you don’t have to start again from scratch in January!
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