Stay slim over Christmas

Christmas is upon us again and although this is one of the favourite times of the year, it can be fatal for anyone who wants to lose weight or preserve their svelte figure.

This is the time of year when food and drink play an essential role in festivities. There is nothing wrong with this, except for the fact that 90% of the dishes and beverages are so loaded with kilojoules that it boggles the mind!

Fatal Festive Fare
Tables groaning with richly roasted turkeys the size of an ostrich bulging with stuffing, glossy hams with a thick layer of kilojoule-loaded fat, sauces swimming with globules of fat, steaming puddings doused in brandy which would keep a lumberjack supplied with enough energy to chop down a whole forest of trees, brandy butter, ice cream made with real cream, gallons of alcohol and sweet liqueurs - no wonder most people gain kilograms over this Festive Season.

So what's the solution?
There are many things you can do to avoid turning into a replica of Santa Clause with a jolly paunch and wobbly cheeks. Let's look at some of the strategies:

If you are in charge of cooking:
Select menus that are kind to you and your guests by concentrating on recipes that use low-fat or skim milk and dairy products, e.g. a dip made with full cream cheese contains 1460 kJ/100 g while fat-free cottage cheese only contains 303 kJ/100g - the cream cheese contains 80% more energy than the fat-free version - what a staggering difference and if you make a dip with the latter, no one will taste the difference.

Use lean meat or fish as your main course and prepare in a way that does not add endless kilojoules to the dish - grilled fish contains 460 kJ/100 g compared to ham which provides 1000 kJ/100 g. Grill meat and fish with tasty herbs and lemon juice instead of roasting in fat.

Use plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to make mouth-watering, attractive salads - there is much to choose from at this time of the year - and your guests will thank you when they leave the table feeling like a million dollars instead of waddling ducks.

Serve fresh fruit salad with meringues and low-fat custard (330 kJ compared to 48 kJ/100 g of custard made with whole milk), or a fruit sorbet for dessert.

Serve fruit punch diluted with soda and chilled with ice cubes instead of alcohol.

Dilute white wine with soda and/or ice cubes - it's much more refreshing and halves the energy content.

 If you are eating out:
Choose a light starter such as fruit or fresh salad. Eat grilled fish or lean grilled meat with fresh salads and go easy on the dressing.

End the meal with a fruit sorbet and you will have dined well and still feel good.

Order spritzers instead of neat wine (this halves the kilojoule count and will make you less likely to fail your breathalizer test!) or drink alcohol-free beer (69 kJ/100 ml vs 300 kJ/100 ml for regular beer, wine and champagne).

Drink plenty of bottled water to keep your body hydrated when the temperatures rise and always drink two glasses of cold water before you go to bed to help your liver cope if you have not been able to resist drinking alcohol - you'll feel so much better the next morning.

The idea is that you should enjoy the Festive Season and not feel like a martyr, but that you should not load your body with excess energy and harmful saturated fats just because Santa is coming to stay!

Remember to exercise!
The holidays are actually an ideal time to exercise. You have more time and are hopefully more relaxed. If you are at the sea, go for long brisk walks and swims (always taking care to not expose yourself to danger - swim where there is a life guard and shark nets, and go walking in a group).

Inland you can do the same as most resorts have pools and you can persuade your friends and family to join you for your daily walk, so don't slack off just when you need that exercise most. - (Dr I.V. van Heerden, DietDoc, updated April 2011)

Any questions? Ask DietDoc

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