Zoe Bingley-Pullin: December diet challenge - How to lose weight before Christmas
Can I start a Christmas diet to lose weight now?
Yes, absolutely! It’s never too late to start. Get your new lifestyle underway today and you’ll not only lose weight before the big day but you’ll also change your eating habits around the festive season, saving you potential weight gain too. Read on for my best tips and tricks on managing your food intake, staying balanced and preventing a blowout this holiday period.
Weight loss challenge - 7 top tips to festive season weight management
- Cut out (or cut down) on coffees - and other drinks that add unnecessary calories to your Christmas diet. A large full cream flat white will set you back around 280 calories (plus more if you add sugar). Swap for a double shot of espresso with a splash of skim milk and you’re down to under 20 calories. Happy days! Be armed with more information on caffeine and dieting with this article, Is coffee good for weight loss? And make sure you try to drink two litres of water per day.
- Watch your alcohol intake – you’ve heard this before no doubt, but if you are indulging during the silly season, there are some smarter choices you can make. Sugary cocktails are the worst. Better choices are spirits with sparkling water or a squeeze of lime; sparkling wine; or light beer. There are also many great low calorie and non-alcoholic options now on the market. The thing about alcohol consumption is that it can impact your diet in a number of ways via its knock-on effects. I’m talking about a potential calorie load, then disruption to sleep, feeling unwell and unable to concentrate the next day, which can interrupt your exercise schedule and also create a desire to overeat the wrong foods.
- Keep meals lean + ideally home-made – one of the biggest things that dieters struggle with is portion size. This is especially hard if you’ve been inadvertently eating more than you should and need to adjust your body back to more modest levels. A few tricks to keep you on track during this weight loss challenge include serving up on a small plate and ensuring you have adequate protein in each meal to avoid hunger later. Eating home-made is really the only way to go, so you know exactly what’s in the food. Or choose a provider like Dietlicious who has already done the nutrition and calorie counting for you.
- Avoid calorie-laden desserts – it’s usually around this time of year that Christmas treats start arriving at workplaces and homes. You know, those chocolate-covered almonds, gingerbread houses, shortbread, French brie and cheesy crackers. There’s no easy way to say this, but if confronted by these types of treats on your diet challenge, you need to have the discipline to turn the other way. Next time a Christmas hamper arrives, accept the fancy mustard and leave the sweet and salty treats for your co-workers to enjoy.
- Stock up on healthy foods, especially if you’re a snacker – the reason we often reach for the wrong foods (be it the snack machine, the café, or the lolly jar) is that we don’t have enough healthy and appealing alternatives on hand when we get peckish. And, we often don’t remove the temptation foods either. So, my advice for this diet challenge is to be prepared. Wash and pre-cut your vege sticks and store in a container in the fridge. Same for fruit such as berries or melon. You can make a tray of bliss balls or just have some nuts or trail mix, tubs of yoghurt or hard boiled eggs ready to go. Hummus, nut butter, cottage cheese and avocado are all great dips or toppings to have available too. And please, clean out your cupboards so you have removed the foods you don’t want to be eating anymore.
- Optimise sleep – you probably feel that during lockdown you banked enough extra sleep that you can afford to party now, but sorry, it doesn’t work like that. Studies show that a lack of sleep triggers increased levels of the hormone, ghrelin, which is responsible for hunger and increased appetite. Poor sleep also leads to decrease in the hormone, leptin, which is responsible for satiety and is supposed to tell you when to stop eating or craving foods.
- Boost your activity levels – burn more calories and compensate for any small indulgences with exercise. I believe that life is about living and this is really hard to do and enjoy if you’re constantly fretting over every little thing that goes in your mouth. You don’t always want to be a ‘no person’, who rejects all the food and drink offers that come your way during December. But you can’t have your cake and lose weight too. Unless you counterbalance that with burning more calories. So, get up earlier and go for a walk. Turn off the television of an evening and enjoy daylight savings. What about a social game of tennis or a walking meet up with a friend? Try surfing or lawn bowls. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you move more and sit less.
Dietlicious meal plans may be your Christmas diet solution
If you find it hard to find the time to prepare and cook healthy food, or judging portion sizes is tricky for you, Dietlicious may be the answer to your prayers.
Their meal plans take all the hard work away and make losing weight very straightforward. The Fast 800 is very popular for rapid but safe weight loss incorporating intermittent fasting. Another best-seller is the 1200 Calorie Plan, which provides three meals and one snack per day and still puts you at a calorie deficit for steady weight loss. If you’re wanting a detox and reboot with clean eating, a food Cleanse may also be perfect for you.
Whether you decide to go it alone or with the help of Dietlicious, I hope these tips have been useful and I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy festive season!