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Why good health does not have to mean being a Scrooge to your stomach

Posted Nov 22 2012 9:14am
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! I hope you are all having a great day filled with food and family. Obviously the next big event in everyone's calenders is Christmas. I'm sure many of your calenders are starting to fill up with parties and meals out, many starting as early as the end of November. I have no issues with digging into my dinner and the chocolates on Christmas day: it only comes once a year after all! However it is the 4-6 weeks beforehand that can get a bit tricky to manage, being off plan for such a long time can have serious affects on your weight loss. Today's post offers some tips on how to try and minimise any weight gain!

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Christmas is a time of celebration for many, and a chance to enjoy some good food (and hopefully some good company!).  When it comes to this time of year, tradition still dictates much of the fare on offer, and it’s often easy to see the Victorian influence in much of this cuisine.  However, we now know that many of the elements that would constitute a culinary prescription for good health in the 19th Century have subsequently been identified by experts as something of a hazard in terms of a balanced diet – but this does not mean that good health at Christmas means being a Scrooge to your appetite.  It is simply that a degree of awareness can really help in a spot of damage limitation.
Now, some of you may take this mention of the word ‘damage’ as a bit over dramatic, but the fact is that the rising tide of obesity in the UK is a cause for concern – and not just for the health care professionals that monitor such lifestyle indicators.  While the Body Mass Index (BMI) is arguably something of a blunt instrument - as the simple relationship between weight and height cannot take into account things like the extra muscle mass in particularly fit and healthy people – a growing number of life insurance providers are paying more attention to this metric when they set life insurance premiums.

Of course, most of us are more worried about how putting on weight makes us look, rather than the effect it will have on a life insurance premium, and this is no bad thing if it helps promote good health .  So back to the question of Christmas – just what can we do to minimise the impact of all the festive excess?


A healthy Christmas spread, courtesy of Andrea Goh

Firstly, it is important to understand that this advice is not about losing weight at Christmas – that is a goal strictly for the masochist, and not one that any experienced health care professional would try to advocate.  Rather, it is about trying to aim for some stability with calorific intake, and there are several ways to do this without entirely banning those traditional Christmas treats.

Awareness of some of the main offenders is a good start.  The average mince pie racks up about 240 calories, and with many leading nutritionists estimating the UK average of 6lb weight gain, for adults over the festive holidays, is achieved by the addition of just 500 calories a day for a few weeks, it is easy to see how those Christmas parties are not to be taken lightly…

Knocking the pastry casing off the top of a mince pie can actually reduce the calories by a third.  Avoiding creamy canapés is another easy and achievable target, as is swopping creamy liqueurs for white wine spritzers.  When it comes to the traditional Christmas Day meal, sticking to the white turkey meat will help, while removing the skin can actually cut fifty calories per portion.  For more information about healthy eating at Christmas, try looking here: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/christmastips06.pdf .     



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Do you have any tips to share on how to stay on track with the extra temptations?

Remember to enter my competition to win a Hotel Chocolat Advent Calender : open to international readers too! You have until Saturday. Good luck!

 


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