Surviving the Festive Season

The festive season is a time when many of us, away from the routine of our busy lives, go on an “eating holiday” and often gain unwanted centimetres around our waists. With a bit of planning you can still enjoy all the Christmas fare, without gaining too many pounds.

Just because wine is made from grapes, doesn’t mean it counts as a fruit serve! Alcohol contains almost as many calories as fat and is one of biggest contributors to weight gain over the ‘silly season’. Not only does alcohol contains lots of calories, it also weakens will-power so we often don’t make good food choices when we drink.

Tips for Managing your Alcohol Intake:

  • Add ice to your drinks
  • Alternate mineral water, soda, low calorie alterative with alcoholic drinks.
  • Choose a tall thin glass, rather than a short fat one because it always looks like there is more in it. If you’re drinking wine, watch the size of your glass – is it standard size or a small bucket?
  • Volunteer to be the sober driver

Alcohol also reduces sleep quality which has a role in optimal recovery, so that is why when you’re training hard and unwind at the end of the day with a glass of wine, subsequent training sessions are sometimes a struggle.

Xmas mince pies and cake are favourites at this time of year and like all other ‘treat’ foods, can be incorporated into your day. When it comes to calorie laden options like this, size matters. Keep them small and always aim for them to be ‘instead of’, rather than an ‘add-on’ to meals and snacks.

There are always lots of Christmas parties to attend with lots of goodies served up, so if you’re worried about gaining unwanted weight be a little careful with your choices:

  • Never go to Xmas parties hungry – you will end up eating more (and probably more of a low- nutrient option). Ensure you have a snack that includes some carbohydrate and protein, e.g. hummus on crackers or fruit & yoghurt, beforehand.
  • Watch out for high fat options, e.g. cheese, pastries and other fried options. Fruit, sushi and lean protein options, e.g. chicken are best
  • Start with a glass of water – many people mistake thirst for hunger and quench their thirst with food (or an alcoholic beverage)
  • Never stand near the food (or the bar for that matter) – it makes it far too easy to pick too often

The holidays also mean lots of BBQs but beware, while protein is an important component of your daily nutrient requirements (especially if you are active) it doesn’t give you a license to fill half of your plate with meat! Protein foods should make up approximately one quarter of your plate, carbohydrates one quarter and veggies or salad the rest (or one half).

The festive season presents many food and beverage challenges but like most things in life, moderation is the key, including moderation itself!  Merry Xmas and happy holidays.

By Kath Fouhy, BSc, PG DipDiet, NZRD

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