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Tag Archives: Fat burning

How to survive Christmas and keep weight off! Rule No 1.

Peg Alexander worried about XmasAre you dreaming of a Lite Christmas? How not to be the Christmas pudding!

Christmas is the hardest time of year for many when it comes to watching your weight or keeping weight off. And if you are dieting you may as well forget it! Putting it bluntly, many people will put on weight over the festive season (studies suggest an average of around 4lb with some saying up to 10lb!). So is it possible to still have a brilliant Christmas and New Year without becoming the Christmas pudding yourself? Can you indulge without the budge?

Of course it is!!!!
So how do you make sure you don’t become the Christmas pudding but don’t feel like you are missing out on everything? I recommend following my Five Golden Rules of Christmas….

You can hear a lighthearted short radio interview about the Five Golden Rules by clicking here.
You can also check out a more factual interview by clicking here.

So what are the Five Golden Rules of Christmas?

Well over the next few days I’ll be sharing a Golden Rule each day….. in writing and on video. So here goes.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 1:
Christmas dinner is not the problem – it’s all the parties, events, mince pies, chocolates, alcohol and extras that happen during the festive season.

Click here to watch the video.

In the weeks running up to Christmas and between Christmas and New Year it’s party time! But that means nibbles, buffet food, mince pies, cakes, sweets and chocolates – and loads of extra alcohol.

So you have to think about how are you going to deal with this. Staying at home is not an option. Instead work out which of these things you can’t do without, and then make deals with yourself about what – and how much – you’ll have. So for example I’m not bothered about crisps or buffet food but I find it hard to resist chocolate and cake. So I’ll allow myself one or two per party and not eat the stuff I don’t really want just because it’s there. And when I do have cakes and chocs, I really enjoy them!! And fill up with low fat food before you go to parties so you are less tempted to pick.

Are mince pies a problem for you?
If so, accept it and work round it. Many shop-bought mince pies have high levels of sugar and fat. Processed food is more likely to turn into fat on you than home-made. So if you love mince pies, make your own and take them with you to parties. Click here for a quick and scrummy no fat or sugar added recipe. Then you can still have them – but manage your weight. You might make yourself popular with your host as well!

You really need to watch alcohol intake
Alcohol represents empty calories. It has no nutritional value at all but contains plenty of calories. It’s very easy to drink too much over the festive period. So monitor how much you are drinking and think of ways to cut down. Alternate between alcohol and soft drinks – just watch out how much sugar there is in some fruit drinks.

Think about what else you will be eating
Try to fill up at breakfast with a bowl of home-cooked porridge with fruit and nuts (avoiding quick cooking oats). If you go to a lunch or tea-time party and there are loads of snacks but you know you’ll probably end up going out to eat that night, then avoid the snacks. And when you go out to eat, think carefully about what you choose. Click here to some advice about what to choose.

Don’t be scared to ask for your own version of the Christmas menu
If you go to a party with a set menu think carefully about what you choose, by using the eating-out guide. Even if you have to chose from a set Christmas menu don’t be afraid to ask for your meal to be adapted so its lower-fat. Choose a low fat option for your starter and pudding (or at least one of them, such as salad without dressing to start or fruit for pudding).

On average, people consume 4000 calories on Christmas day
On Christmas day we drink lots and eat endless snacks, sweets – plus the big dinner. Just a few small chocolates add up – there are between 40 and 60 calories in many individual chocolates, so keep a count of how many you munch; it’s just too easy to pop them in your mouth without thinking. I keep them out of reach, for example in a cupboard. That way you have to think about everyone single one you have.

Make your Christmas meal that bit kinder too
It will always help if think about the calories of your Christmas dinner and to try and reduce the impact of your Christmas meal. Some handy tips for stuffing the turkey, not you, include…..

  • Turkey is a fat-burning food. Avoid the skin and fill up your plate with turkey breast and veggies.
  • If you are vegetarian think about a low-fat alternative, such as quorn or soya. If you have nut roast, watch how much butter you put in and use wholemeal bread crumbs.
  • Think about mixing roast potatoes with lower GI boiled new potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can roast potatoes using low-fat spray. Always avoid potatoes cooked in goose fat.
  • Don’t put butter on your veggies even if everyone else is having them.
  • Cook some extra stuffing outside of the turkey so it’s not soaked with turkey fat.
  • Avoid sausage stuffing and also cut back on the sausages and pigs in blankets.
  • Make some low-fat gravy for yourself. Or if you have gravy made from the turkey juice, reduce the fat by putting it in the fridge and removing the fat.
  • Make your Christmas pudding lower fat – avoid beef suet and use extra fruit instead.
  • Think about the sauces you have on your pudding. Can you swap your normal custard for low-fat? Try yogurt rather than cream or ice-cream or only a small amount of brandy butter or even brandy custard.

And finally – remember just because there are certain foods and drinks around, it doesn’t mean you have to consume them!

Keep checking to see the other five Golden Rules.

Love mince pies? Then make your own!

mince pie muffins cookedOne of the many lovely things about Christmas is mince pies. They are scrummy. And very plentiful. From now on there may well be mince pies at meetings, at gatherings, when you go for a cup of tea or coffee at a friends. But sadly, many will be very fattening and will turn to fat on you! It really is the case that one mince pie could hurt. Indeed, you may need to walk about 4 miles to walk off just one mince pie! So if you are watching your weight then you need to think carefully about how many you can eat this festive season.

Many mince pies will be shop bought, and most shop bought goods come with more calories which turn more quickly to fat than home-made or unprocessed food. But as we know Christmas is not a time to deny yourself everything. So here is my solution. If you love mince pies, make your own, and take them to places where you know there will be.

This is just one suggestion from my new 5 Golden Rules of Christmas which I’ll be sending out in coming days. In the meantime, here is a lovely, quick, easy and lower fat/sugar free mince pie recipe.

So enjoy!

Low fat and sugar mince pies

For the mincemeat:
500g apples (use cooking apples if you can)
900g mixed dried fruit
3 tsp mixed spice
600ml cider
2 tbsp brandy, whisky or rum.

For the pastry:
1 packets of filo pastry sheets

 

To make the mincemeat:

mincemeat1. Grate the apple and put into a pan with the mixed dried fruit. Add the mixed spice and cider and stir well.

2. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid has almost gone and the mixture is soft and pulpy.

3. Stir in the brandy, whisky or rum and leave to cool.

 

To make into mince pies:
You can either use a small muffin tray to make open pies or you can make parcels.

Using a muffin tray:

mince pie muffin with filo pastry1. Spray with some fry light.

2. Cut the filo pastry into squares. Then use 2 or 3 squares depending on the size of your muffin cases. Place the first square over a cup and mould. Then take the second and put at an angle to the first and again mould. Do the same with any third sheet.

3. Bake at gas mark 4 or 180c for 10 mins.

4. Spoon in the mincemeat.

5. Bake for a further 12 to 15 minutes. Keep checking to see when they are ready. If your muffin tin is large you may need to bake for a further 5 minutes.

 

To make parcels:

mincepie parcel uncooked1. Spray a non stick baking sheet with fry-light

2. Use 2 or 3 squares of file depending on how thick you would like your pastry.

3. Place a couple of spoonfuls of mincemeat in the centre of the square.

4. Bundle up into a nice parcel.

5. Bake at gas mark 3½ or 150c until the tops are brown but the bottoms of the parcels are also cooked. I baked them for around 20 minutes; larger parcels may need more time to bake the bottoms.

Control your own food – even when away from home

Being away from home doesn’t mean you cannot still make good decisions with food, that you cannot watch your weight, keep weight off, or even diet and lose weight! This weekend I was away from home (again) at a conference. I’ve recently become an associate member of the Professional Speakers Association as I’m building up my speaking profile talking about weight, diets and obesity, food, body image and staying positive when life is, bluntly, challenging.

The conference was in a hotel but despite being away for 2 nights and 3 days I didn’t leave any of my food to chance. That’s not to say I didn’t partake of some of the food on offer; just that I was very deliberate about it and it was on my terms.

Of course, never leaving food to chance takes some planning. I’d been really busy this week I didn’t have much time. If you are organised it doesn’t have to be a massive job and I still managed to make a fat burning, low GI, sugar/fat free meal.  On Thursday night I quickly roasted some veg in balsamic vinegar and fry light, soaked some oil free sundried tomatoes and put on a pan of whole-wheat pasta at the same as cooking my evening meal. Before I went to bed I mixed it all together, added some cherry toms, fat free cottage cheese and some fresh black pepper. This meal will easily last for 48 hours even outside a fridge. I put it in an old tub I’d saved and left in the fridge ready to pick up the next morning.

A good cool bag and some planning and you can eat low fat low GI food on the move

Early the next morning all I had to do was pick up the some muesli and get the pasta and some tubs of fat free yogurt from the fridge, put in some cool bags and I was ready to go. On the way down to the conference I stopped at a motorway services M&S and bought my lunch for both days and a bottle of skimmed milk. With very little trouble I now had 3 of my meals.

Keeping cool….
I was staying in a budget hotel so I didn’t have a fridge in my room. For once I went by car. It’s autumn so my car boot doubled up as a fridge! If the weather had been warmer I would have asked the hotel to let me use one of their main fridges. I’ve never been turned down.

This was the buffet lunch. High fat, high sugar and all refined. Destined to make you put on weight

I just took the food out of my ‘fridge’ as needed. Good job I’d been organised. On the first night there was a buffet and all the food was pretty calorific. The buffet lunch on Saturday had not one single item of food which was fat burning, wholefood or good to eat if you are watching your weight. Even the salads were covered in mayo or loads of oil. I didn’t mind; I was too busy enjoying the salads I’d bought at M&S. My resolve was strong – until the pudding on Friday night when some Pecan and toffee cheesecakes were bought out! I have to say I just could not say no – it went down pretty nicely I can tell you. But I was the one making that choice.

Choosing which meal I would eat ….
All that was left was my evening meal on Saturday, a gala dinner. I knew this was going to be the big occasion of the weekend so I had decided in advance I would eat the meal. I did my usual rouse – I told them I am vegan (I am not, but that way I avoid food which is rich is cream and cheese). I was given a really lovely sweet potato and chickpea curry. Bit too much fat for me but it was really tasty. The only downside of the vegan ‘lie’ is when the pudding comes and you are given fruit salad. Luckily they got confused and I got given a lovely apple frangipani tart. Mmmmmm. You see – it was all on my terms. And I didn’t feel bad, I just enjoyed every mouthful.

When you eat high calorie food you need to be the one who choses

I hadn’t eaten high calorie food I didn’t want to eat because it was all that was there. I had mainly chosen food I wanted to eat and which was fat burning and low fat/sugar. But I enjoyed puddings and other food I had chosen to eat.

When keeping weight off its so so important to remember that you can still be in control of your food and make good food choices even when you are away from home. Be determined that when you do eat high calorie food it will be your decision, not someone else’s, and the food will be food you REALLY WANT TO EAT!

And when you do, enjoy every mouth full.

 

In a future blog I’ll be sharing a new lovely autumn pudding that I’ve been working on. A fat free, sugar free and flour free cakey pudding……….

Like eating a lot but keeping weight off? Just go for fat burning foods

 

There were reasons why I used to be a size 22 and according to the doctors ‘morbidly obese’. The main one was that I like eating. And I like to eat big large portion sizes. That will never change. After losing weight I had to find a way I could still eat a lot and maintain my new size 10 weight. Aiming for maximum volume for minimum calories I started looking at what happens when you eat different kinds of foods. That’s when I discovered fat burning and calorie neutral foods.

Fat burning foods are foods that:

  • make the body work very hard and use up calories in the food when processing it, and/or
  • start a reaction or process which speeds up your metabolism and manages your blood sugar, and/or
  • fill you up more so you eat less, and/or
  • are not digested at all and just pass through the body.

Calorie neutral foods are those that use up more calories than there are in the foods in processing them so you actually lose weight by eating them.

Of course it’s a lot more complicated than that but you get the idea.

Calorie counting assumes all calories are equal; they are not.

One of my ’21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’ is to remember that not all calories are equal.  This is why I do not believe that simple calorie counting is the best way to manage your weight when you are keeping weight off .


If you rely on calorie counting then, in theory, you could eat chocolate and crisps all day and so long as you don’t go over the recommended calories for your height, current weight and activity levels then you would keep weight off. But you wouldn’t be healthy and in the long term that will make keeping weight off neigh-on impossible for someone who has struggled with weight gain. (If you want to find out how many calories you need you can click here to check your BMR).

Brownies made with added fat burning ingredients

Keeping weight off requires you to have a healthy, balanced diet and to keep your metabolism as fast as possible. One easy way to do this is to eat lots of fat burning foods. There is a real variety of fat burning foods, something for everyone, and they are foods you can easily just make the staple of your day to day diet. Or, you can adapt recipes to include fat burning foods to make your favourite dishes more fat burning. It’s amazing how easy and routine ‘easy swaps’ can become with a bit of thought. And then, like me, you can eat loads and still keep weight off.

So, want to know what these wonder foods are? For a list of fat burning and calorie neutral foods click here.

Good luck, enjoy the foods. And let us know on here or on facebook about any fab recipes you have using fat burning foods.

A brilliant summer salad – Oriental Rice Salad

Its time for some recipes on here I think. Here’s one of my favourite summer dishes; Oriental Rice Salad.

Oriental Rice SaladThis dish is not only really tasty, but its easy to make, 100% fat free and keeps in the fridge for a couple of days. Plus, with the exception of a handful of raisins and a spoon of sherry, it only contains foods which are brilliant for keeping weight off. All the other ingredients are fat burning, and almost all are low GI (pineapple, though is medium GI). The ginger adds a bit of heat which also helps boost metabolism.

So tuck in and enjoy, eating as much as you want! As you know I like eating LOADS so I reckon the recipe below will serve 3 decent portions or 4 smaller portions.

Ingredients:

8oz / 225g brown rice

For the sauce:

4 tbsp fresh orange juice

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 clove garlic minced

½ tsp grated ginger

1 dsp sherry

For the salad:

6 radishes, sliced

2oz / 60g bean sprouts

2oz / 60g raisins

1 orange

2oz / 60g toasted or dry fried cashew nuts

2 sticks celery

4oz / 120g pineapple

Instructions:

1.  Cook the rice following the instructions  on the packet. Make sure you rinse well in cold water first to remove dried starch. Make sure your water is boiling when you put the rice in the pan. This helps stop the rice getting sticky.

2. Mix together the dressing of fresh orange juice, soy sauce, minced garlic, grated ginger and sherry. Add some salt and pepper.

3. When the rice is cooked, drain and season with salt and pepper. Then pour over the dressing whilst still warm so it will soak up some of the dressing into the rice. Leave to cool.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the salad. To toast the cashew nuts I recommend dry frying in a non-stick pan for a few minutes.

5. When the rice is cool mix together and enjoy!