Keep the festive weight off - avoid the binge

DON'T DO IT: There are lots of equally tasty healthier options to enjoy over the festive season instead of overindulging in food such as burgers and chips PHOTO: THINKSTOCK
DON'T DO IT: There are lots of equally tasty healthier options to enjoy over the festive season instead of overindulging in food such as burgers and chips PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

EVERY year around this time diets are thrown out of the window and people indulge in all the festive food they can get their hands on, realising only in January how much weight they've gained.

"The all too familiar abundance of foods and beverages present during the holiday season sees many people giving in and overeating or binge drinking, which can leave you feeling bloated and tired, and can even weaken your immune system," says Graham Anderson, CEO of Profmed, a medical aid scheme.

But, there are ways to indulge in festive foods without gaining weight.

"Whenever possible try to choose healthier alternatives and substitutions at meal and snack times," Anderson says.

"Simple choices such as water over alcohol, nuts or dried fruit over chips and fried foods, and filling up on vegetables or salads before sampling richer foods can go a long way."

To some this may sound like a healthier yet less tasty alternative to the good tasting yet unhealthy food associated with the holidays. However, healthy food does not necessarily mean it won't taste good.

Dr Mehmet Oz, of The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Dr Oz Show fame, has compiled a list of six fat-burning snacks that are sure to keep off the festive season weight.

With these snacks, people will probably not have to add weight loss as one of their 2015 new year's resolutions.

lFigs. This fruit is an excellent source of fibre, which helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. Snacking on figs will help you eat less and burn fat. Plus they're a great option when you're craving something sweet but don't want a snack with added sugar.

lBeans. They're loaded with soluble fibre and help promote good bacteria in the gut and lower inflammation.

lLiquorice. Skip the sweet aisle and get the real deal from your local health food store. Liquorice root blocks an enzyme that plays a role in fat accumulation and helps control cravings.

lWatermelon. This summertime favourite increases amino acids and helps support metabolism. Plus, as it is water based, it's also very hydrating. One cup is all you need to start burning fat.

lPistachios. They are packed with plenty of health benefits. Full of fibre, protein and healthy fats, they can help you stay full so that you don't overeat.

l Pine nuts. They can also act as an appetite suppressant thanks to a chemical that signals to your brain that you're full. Try three tablespoons three times a week.

These snacks are not only tasty but some of them will surely help keep the appetite in check. And so, when Christmas lunch arrives, overeating will not be an option.

This is not to say that you shouldn't indulge in the lunch, but there won't be going back for seconds and thirds.

"At the same time, overindulging a little is completely natural and human, so don't beat yourself up too much," Anderson says.

"If you've had a bit of a binge, drink antioxidant-rich fluids such as green tea and cranberry juice and try to incorporate more fibre and immune-boosting vitamins into your diet."

This can be done through eating grains, pulses like lentils and dry beans, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Registered dietician Janene Sacks, who has her own practice in Melrose, says she advises people to try and maintain their weight during the festive season, rather than aiming to lose weight.

"When you maintain your weight you avoid the new year's resolution to lose weight."


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