5 Ways To Avoid Being A Christmas Pudding
This is the picture every year isn’t it ? We’ve eaten Christmas dinner, stuffing our faces until we cannot eat any more . . . turkey and all of the trimmings, a couple of puddings because, well, we just can’t decide and then that liquer coffee to finish. Prior to dinner, we have generally had the obligatory bacon sandwich (at least that was the tradition when I was a kid) followed by generous helpings of nuts out on display and then a few sneaky chocolates from our Christmas stash.
So okay the nuts aren’t too bad (so long as they are out of the shell), but the rest ? Well the rest is okay if taken in moderation and with a few things in mind.
Did you know – The average person consumes as much as 4500 calories on Christmas Day alone ? That is more than twice the recommended daily calorie intake for men and women. Thing is, it does not stop on Christmas Day – it happens on Boxing Day, then again on New Years Eve and New Years Day, not to mention the chocolates, biscuits, cakes and alcohol consumed over the days inbetween too. This means that for about 10 days over the Christmas holiday, we are consuming on average around twice as many calories as we need – is it any wonder then that the majority of people put on a few pounds over those 10 days, especially as for the majority of it we are sedentary, the only exercise a lot of us get is bending our elbow as we take food from a plate and put it in our mouths.
Firstly, lets answer a question – Why is it that many of us tend to fall asleep after eating Christmas Dinner ?
The stomach does not cope well with being filled to the brim with food, and Christmas is traditionally a time that we over eat. We eat and eat, until we get that feeling that we are going to be sick, and only then do we stop. What we have to remember is that our body has got to process all of this food, which we have washed down with the obligatory bottle of fizz.
Everything you eat has to be digested, and when you overeat, you over load the body. Imagine that your body is a food processing factory which has lots of workers in it. The workers are all evenly distributed around your organs, allowing your body to run like an efficient production line – suddenly there is a blockage, in manufacturing we used to call it a bottleneck. When we used to get a bottleneck, other machines would stop running and all team members would hit the bottleneck and clear it, working as a team. Your body works in the same way. Suddenly there is a bottleneck in your stomach and it calls on all of the other organs to slow down, so that resources can be deployed to help sort through all of the material blocking the stomach (digestion). In order to do this, your other organs slow down and you begin to function more slowly and feel tired and so you sleep. A couple of hours later, you wake up scared you have slept through Christmas Tea and missed the cakes – yes, you are ready to eat again because whilst you slept your food processing factory worked overtime to clear the bottleneck.
This also happens after Sunday Dinner or any other big event where lots of food has been consumed. In addition it explains how all of our organs work when compromised, for example when one has a heart attack, all blood is called from the extremities to the core to keep the major organs supplied with blood and alive – one of the things I will always remember from having my heart attacks was how freezing cold I was especially in my fingers, hands, toes and feet.
So this explained, what can we do to avoid sleeping through half of the holidays and eating the rest of the time ?
Looking at this picture makes me feel ill, but it didn’t used to. In the last 18 months I have learned how to stop myself from overindulging in order to make eating more enjoyable at the same time as preserving my health and maintaining my weight.
- Stay Hydrated – Drink at least 2 litres of water daily, throughout the day. Drinking water does many things. It helps you to feel full and as such will help to prevent you from snacking inbetween meals. Water is absorbed easily by the body, and will also help with alcohol consumption. Part of the reason that we get a hangover, is that alcohol dehydrates us – it causes us to pee more and the body to absorb less water – by being properly hydrated, we can to some extent prevent the effects of drinking too much alcohol. Water also helps to stop food cravings and can be taken with a slice of lemon, lime, orange, or fresh raspberry, strawberries, or (as its Christmas) cranberries.
- Moderation – We’ve all heard the saying “Everything in moderation” and this is true. Alcohol, chocolate, cakes, etc all need to be eaten in moderation. If your mother or granny has gone to town and cooked 2 or 3 different desserts so that you have choice – exercise choice, but if you must have some of each then make sure that the size of your 3 desserts together equates to a single portion if you were to have chosen just one, rather than it being a triple sized dessert. (As a side point, have you ever noticed that the word desserts is “stressed” backwards!!) This goes for everything else. Limit yourself to just one or two cakes per day, or just a couple of chocolates in the morning and a couple after tea rather than eating the entire box in a day. This means they will last longer and you will not be consuming as many calories or grams of fat each day.
- Exercise EVERY Day – Exercise is key to remaining balanced over the Christmas period. And yes EVERY day, including Christmas Day. Exercise is important for two reasons – the elevated heart rate and metabolism that exercise brings will help to burn calories more quickly; in addition exercise helps with the digestive process and will help to keep indigestion and wind (caused especially by overindulging in fatty foods) at bay. If you run or exercise at home, then that is great – keep it up. If you don’t then try and take a walk every day for 30 minutes to an hour (it takes around 30 minutes to burn off the calories in a mince pie) – take the kids or grandkids to the park and enjoy being outside, or take the dog for a walk. If you’ve has a bike for Christmas then go for a long bike ride! Being in the fresh air will open up the airways, exercising will make you breathe in a different way and release hormones like serotonin and oxytocin which will make you feel good, especially at a time of year when people tend to feel down much of the time. So not only is it good for you physically, but is also good for you mentally.
- Make Healthy Choices – where you can. This can be done when planning what you will buy to eat over Christmas. Instead of choosing roasted nuts or honey roasted nuts or salted nuts, choose untreated nuts – either those still in their shells which you can crack open and eat, or those in packets that have been shelled only. These are best for you – they will help to fill you up and although they do contain fat, it is fat that is easily processed and good for your body. Mix these with pumpkin seeds and dried fruit in bowls and snack on them instead of chocolates or sweets. If your palate is asking for savoury foods, then instead of crisps and dips replace the crisps with sticks of cucumber, carrot, celery etc. Even though the dips may be calorific the vegetables are not and you will be consuming half of the calories by choosing these snacks.
- Practice TRUE Freedom Mentality – As explained in my book, “freedom mentality” is when you choose to eat foods that you would not normally eat in your healthy diet, “treats” if you like, but you do so in the knowledge of what you are putting into your body and how it will effect your body. This could also be termed “eating mindfully”. By doing this with full understanding, you are much less likely to overeat or indulge, because you are fully aware of what you are overloading your body with. You will still eat those “naughty treats” that you enjoy so much, but you will eat less of them per day, and they will be balanced with the healthy choices talked about in point 4. In order to get yourself ready for practicing freedom mentality, take 3 or 4 items that you think of as “naughty treats” that you may be looking forward to eating and research the ingredients in them and how they effect your body, research the percentages of sugar and fat in them – this means that when you do come to eat them you will be mindful of exactly what you are eating
Following the above, will help you to have a Christmas that allows you to eat what you enjoy, but also ensures that you do not put on the 5lbs in weight that the average person puts on over Christmas. In addition it will mean you have a Christmas season free from worrying about your health and whether you will fit into those clothes in the New Year. If you have any left overs, put them in the freezer and they can either be eaten at a later date or turned into soup – don’t eat it just because it is there, it doesn’t have to be eaten there and then.
More than anything else enjoy yourself over the Christmas holiday and watch out for our Nutrition Bootcamp coming soon, which will be aimed at helping people lose weight and get healthy after Christmas.
Happy Christmas folks 🙂
Peace light and love, Dale