by: Jen

It’s that time of year again – party season! It’s getting to the stage where every second night there’s a dinner or party to go to and you can’t escape the delicious food that comes with Christmas. The tins of sweets have started popping up in our office already and the festive spirit has really set in. Every Christmas we go through the same inner battle – wanting to stay healthy but also wanting to eat all around us. And we always come to the same solution, “I’ll start being good in January”!  Well this year, start early by keeping an eye on the types of foods that you’re having.

Making a couple of small changes when at parties or on a night out can help to prevent over-indulging but still allow us to have plenty of holiday treats. Here are my five top tips.

1. Don’t arrive starving and make healthy swaps – Before going to a party, have a light snack a few hours before. That way you won’t arrive starving and end up munching on nibbles. Avoid the deep fried options like spring rolls and opt for the lighter foods like lean meats, marinated chicken bites, or vegetable sticks with dips.

2. More fun, less eating – Make the most of catching up with old friends and family rather than hanging around the buffet table all night. It can take around 20 minutes for our brain to realise that we are full so talking more and taking breaks from eating will make sure it gets the message in time. Get up and dance to the Christmas music, not only will you be getting away from the food but you’ll also be getting some fun exercise in.

3. Make sure there are healthy options – If you are the host of the party, prepare plenty of healthy options. A rainbow vegetable platter looks and tastes great with plenty of different low fat dips like salsa, low fat yogurt with garlic or herbs, or a homemade hummus. If you aren’t the host, offer to help out with the food by bringing a dish. That way you can make sure there are healthy options and the host will be delighted with the help.

4. Reduce the fat content of your Christmas Dinner –Surveys have shown that we can consume as much as 6,000 calories on Christmas day alone. That is triple what we need in an average day and it’s easy to cut down. Turkey is low in fat and calories, just be sure to remove the skin. Choose the whiter cuts of meat such as the breast which are better than the darker meat such as legs and thighs. Use olive oil, lemon, thyme, rosemary and other herbs and spices for flavouring potatoes and vegetables rather than butter and salt. Pile your plate high with seasonal vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and red cabbage. The more colours the better and try not to smother your dinner in gravy. If you’re a fan of your Christmas pudding and cake, enjoy it a couple of hours after your dinner as an evening snack. Instead of serving with brandy butter or cream, go for some low fat custard or crème fraiche.

5. Don’t forget to exercise! – Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse. Wrap up warm and walk to a friend’s house on Christmas Eve to deliver some presents. Instead of staying in and watching Christmas television on Stephens Day head out with the family or meet some friends for a walk. Even battling your way through the Christmas sales counts as exercise! Just be sure to reward yourself for being so good over Christmas with a new bag or pair of shoes rather than another slice of cake.