Tag Archives: Low GI

Different diets for different times of our lives – trying Wheat Free

So I desperately need to lose about 1 and a half stones or 20lb. I’ve needed to lose this weight for a while now – ever since a 2nd unsuccessful pregnancy last summer followed by a load of consequent comfort eating. Plus, as many of you know, before I’d shed my extra weight, me and my husband set off on a year’s backpacking around the world. (We have a travel blog at www.middle-aged-spread.com). We’re living in hostels & cheap hotels so I’m unable to follow my own normal advice – my ’21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’. So desperate times mean desperate measures. And looks like I’ve found winning solution. Going wheat free! 

Different times, different diets
I believe that different diets work for us at different times un our lives. We can’t assume that because one diet worked once for us or a friend, that’s the only possible answer. Our lives change and so I think the answers to managing our weight changes through time too.

Veg and protein. Perfect for wheat free

Veg and protein. Perfect for wheat free

I’ve really been struggling to find a diet I could do whilst traveling. Food replacement diets have worked for me in the past but are no good on the other side of the world. Slimming World has also worked for me but it relies on UK shops and being able to cook your own meals which I can’t do. Low fat isn’t going to work when it’s hard enough to order veggie food when there’s a language barrier and the shops just don’t stock it. Alternate day fasting could be an option – but to be honest it isn’t an option when meals are the only thing that break up our days. And really it’s not fair on Patrick during this trip. Even just eating wonderful, healthy Thai food and lots of fresh fruit for a month didn’t shift any extra weight. People back home have been telling me to just stop worrying about my weight. But I can’t as it makes me unhappy to be the size I am now. It’s how we feel ourselves that matters.

So I’ve decided to try and diet that is totally alien to me and what I normally do. And guess what? 2 weeks in its really working!!!

Gone wheat free
Strange as it may sound, writing this in Vietnam, but I’ve found this diet really easy here. Basically, I’ve cut out all wheat and most carbs and sugar, and don’t worry about fat or fried food. Whilst this means no rice or noodles (I know, sounds strange) its been easy for me to get meals that are veg and protein, like stir frys or omelettes. I’m snacking on low GI fruit and loads of nuts – including loads of fresh coconut and coconut water to drink – so never hungry. I’m even having full fat milk I’m coffee (just getting milk without sugar is a challenge here!!).

And I’m having a little dark 70% chocolate bar most days. Sounds alright doesn’t it. When we get to thailand I’ll also be able to have fabulous Papaya Salad too. 🙂

Changing my mind too

Hostel bunk bed living - listening to downloads on headphones is easy

Hostel bunk bed living – listening to downloads on headphones is easy

I’m also listening to a short download every day which is telling my subconscious mind that I don’t want to eat wheat or carbs and that I want to be slimmer again. It’s certainly having an effect. I have started to get bloated drinking fizzy pop and I’m getting full really quickly so want to eat a lot less. Mind you, eating with chop sticks might be helping with this too!

 

My make-shift waist measuring devise. The first week I could cut off a good piece!

My make-shift waist measuring devise. The first week I could cut off a good piece!

The results? Well I don’t have any scales so I’m monitoring my waist using a piece of string we used to tie up our mossie net in our last bungalow and a ruler app i downloaded onto the ipad! The first week I cut off about 4cm. This week just over 1. Not bad heh?

For ever?
The programme I’m following says you have to cut wheat out for ever. I’m not so sure as I successfully ate whole grains in moderate amounts whilst keeping weight off for a number of years ; indeed it’s one of my 21 Keys. So I’ll have to see what I decide to do once Im back to a size I’m happier with. But it sure is working for me at the moment.

Goes to show – different approaches work at different times in our lives.

New Year, new diet?

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Happy New Year!!  Hope you have had a great festive season and feel good about life. Now as we enter 2013 of course it is time for setting those resolutions about what we will do in the next year. And for a large section of the population, time to start dieting. And I’m afraid I am no exception. My big, fat diet starts here! 

Chose the right diet for you….
So if you too are thinking about dieting then the biggest tip I have is to chose the right diet for you. I’ve found that what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. So just because your friend swears by a particular diet it doesn’t mean it’s the best for you. On the other hand, research shows that if you diet with mates it’s more likely to work. We are social animals so doing things in groups means we are more likely to stick with it.  That’s also why research shows you are more likely to succeed with one of the diet programmes rather than going it alone. I know the pressure of the weekly public weigh-in kept me on track last time I did slimming world.

I also think its about accepting that diets work best for us as different times of our lives. So don’t be dismayed if a diet that was once brilliant for you doesn’t work another time.

Instead my tip is that if a diet programme isnt working for YOU then maybe you need to try a different programme rather than just giving up dieting. Of course, though, they all require will power and giving things up. And sometimes in life we just aren’t able to diet…..

Just not able to diet…
21 Keys to keeping weight off That’s my position at the moment. Over the summer I put on weight through a failed pregnancy. Then we decided to go backpacking around the world for a year or so. I failed to lose the pregnancy (and misery eating that followed) weight before we went, and since travelling its been impossible for me to keep to my normal weight maintenance way of life (using my ’21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off)! let alone diet.

Sightseeing in Mumbai

Sightseeing in Mumbai

First we were in Turkey where vegetarian food is harder to come by and where white bread forms a huge part of the diet. (I also struggled as the filler part of breakfast was boiled eggs which I can’t stomach so eat too much bread and butter with jam). Then we came to India. Really easy to get veggie food, but fear of bacteria in boiled rice (that’s another story to follow), curries cooked in ghee, sugar and cream with little fresh veg and naans and roti all made with refined flour, and not being able to eat fruit unless I can peel and wash in filtered water, means dieting or maintaining my weight has been impossible. Plus because I’m off my normal ways I’ve said sod it, and keep letting myself just for it – puddings with meals and too many chocolate bars! My size 10s still fit, just – if they are on the large size – and really I’m a size 12 and will be more unless I get a grip.

Action is needed….
I have to do something about this. Not because I think size 12 is too big but because I don’t feel happy about myself at this weight. Thankfully we start new year in Thailand where losing weight should be easy – loads of fresh fruit that’s safer to eat, meals full of veg and cooked in coconut oil. I just need to remember I am dieting too and not eat so much chocolate or pudding, sticking to fresh fruit and low fat yoghurt.

I’m also doing a lot of visualisation work too – when I wake up and before I go to sleep picturing how I will look when my travelling clothes are baggy. Plus to spur me on I’ve put a photo of me at a size I loved at my hen party on my phone wallpaper. It makes me smile when I see it – I was so happy, I loved my size and I liked sticking to my 21 keys programme.

Find the right way for you…
So, if you want to diet, find the right way for you, that fits with your life now; you are far more likely to stick to it. Stay focused on your goal and be really kind to yourself, thinking happy thoughts about how great it will be to be slimmer rather than berating yourself for not being as slim as you might want. Smile and your willpower will come more easily.

Keep us updated on here with how you get on and any other thoughts you have about new year dieting.

Peg xxx

Binging when dieting? – Why, oh why, oh why?

 

As February starts I realised my new year diet has simply not been working. Not surprising as I realised I’ve actually been binging this January. So not only have I not been losing weight, I’ve actually put a little bit of weight on! I know I can diet when I’m motivated so why have I found it so hard to lose weight this January? And how am I going to get back to good habits?

Some of us just struggle around food…
We all have different reasons why we struggle around food. Do you live to eat or eat to live? Me, I love eating. I just don’t have an ‘off-switch’ and I like to just eat and eat and eat. What I’ve learned over the last 4 years since losing nearly 8 stone in weight, and keeping most of it off since is that I will just keep on eating unless I actively manage my food and make deliberate decisions about when to stop. I also have other strategies, particularly making sure that if I want to stuff my face I do it on food that doesn’t matter – like fat burning foods and calorie neutral or Low GI foods.

I’ve also learned that when I allow myself free-reign I lose all boundaries and can’t stop. Before Christmas I made some very, very calorific Florentines (they had 3 bars of choc in and a whole packet of butter). The idea was to take them to the family we were visiting over Christmas. I did take them places but guess who ate most of them? Piece by piece, I just couldn’t stop. The same on Christmas day – I kept eating till I was almost sick!!

New year diet resolution just not working…
I believe that when keeping weight off you have to occasionally re-balance as it’s inevitable you put some weight back on – particularly at a time like Christmas. But even going on my little catch-up diet on 1st January hasn’t stopped me from eating too much! I bought a new Hypnosis book and CD (The Hypno Diet) and have been listening every morning. It is telling me to reduce portion size. So a week ago, totally in the name of research you understand, I went to the most difficult place of all for me – the all you can eat international buffet! I was determined to follow my own advice on how to manage the buffet. Did I? Of course not and I ate and ate until no more could go in.

Back in normal life, I’ve been trying to keep to Slimming World. But sadly, the ‘free food’ concept has not helped – I’ve been eating fruit no-stop even when I am full, let alone hungry. It may be fruit but too much is starting to tell. And worringly, the hypnosis CD is not at this moment helping me.

Taking action…
So I’ve decided I have to take action
. And that is the key for us all I think. If a diet or how you are with food isn’t working, take some time to really think about what it is that isn’t working. A food and activity diary for a few days will help you see what needs to change.

1. Work out what isn’t working.
For me clearly I’m binging and I’m allowing myself to binge on foods I wouldn’t normally have.

2. Think about why it’s not working.
Is it comfort, is it just habit. Why are you feeling less able to make good decisions with food than normal? For me, I have had a lot of disruption at home over the last couple of months and I know I am on the verge of major change in my life. Is it so surprising this might make me want to comfort eat?

3. Work out what you can do to change these habits.
The answer to this one is different for us all. Maybe its just about changing what you do or a routine – for example if you are eating too much rubbish whilst watching TV, maybe try not to watch TV for a few nights or sit in a different seat. Or maybe you need to decide to follow a different eating pattern, eating different foods.

My solution…
For me, I know I need to shift some weight as I do each year (this time about a stone) and I need to stop the binging. So I’ve gone back on Lighterlife Lite for a few weeks. That way I don’t eat food at all during the day (you eat food replacement packs) and what I do eat is strictly measured. Then when I’ve lost the weight I’ll follow a programme to get me back to eating sensible amounts. Sounds drastic but for me it works.

What works for you…
Of course that’s the thing – what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. But once you have found what works for you, stick with it. Take it hour by hour if you have to do, or day by day. Take all the support and help you can from friends and family. And just love how you clothes feel better each day.

Follow the ‘21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’…
And once you are back where you want to be, well remember to check out my 21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off to help you stay there.

Let me know how you get on.
xxx

Quorn – brill for dieting and to keep weight off

When it comes to your new year diet or if you want to keep weight off, quorn is simply brilliant. Really versatile, it can be made into almost anything you would normally make with meat. And best of all it is really very low fat, low GI, high in fibre, high in protein, keeps you feeling fuller for longer, is fat burning and very low calorie. So all in all, a brilliant diet and weight maintenance food.

If you haven’t been converted yet, read on…..

What is quorn?
Quorn is a micro-protein, made by adding oxygen, nitrogen, glucose and minerals to a fungus called Fusarium venenatum which is described as being like mushrooms and truffles. Many quorn products also contain eggs. Quite disturbingly it was originally used to make material and animal feed! However it was quickly realised that because it has a good texture (some say its like it has been ‘knitted’) it is possible to shape it into various formats. By adding flavours it’s made into a meat-free alternative for everything from chicken fillets to fish fingers; from sliced deli-ham to a meat free pate.

What can you get…..
Quorn products which are great for slimming and watching weight include:

Need to be cooked:

  • Mince
  • Sausages
  • Chicken style pieces
  • Chicken style fillets
  • Beef strips
  • Swedish style and Italian style meatballs
  • Burgers
  • Pepper steaks
  • Lamb steaks.

Deli food ready to eat:

  • Sandwich meats – ham, chicken, beef, turkey
  • Fajita strips
  • Roasted fillets
  • Tikka fillets.

There are loads of other products too but not all are low fat or good for slimming. For example the bacon and Southern Style Burgers taste great but have more calories (though they are still relatively low calorie). And many of the ready meals or products can actually be quite calorific. So you need to check those carefully.

Really easy…..
Two great aspects of quorn which make it even easier to use are that it keeps quite well out of the fridge for a day or so if you are having food on the go. So I will often make a packed lunch/tea of deli products and a tub of salad.

Also you are OK to defrost and re-freeze. So even if I make a meal with frozen quorn I often re-freeze the cooked meal to have when I need something quick and easy.

Good on diets…..
Quorn should fit well with your diet. On Slimming World mince and pieces are superfree foods; on Weight Watchers  basic quorn products are low in Pro Points. It is also a low GI food so will fit with your low GI diet. Just check your particular diet for more details.

You do need to cook slightly differently though…
Believe me, if you slightly adapt how you cook quorn you can give it to unsuspecting meat eaters and they will often not know. The trick is to use more liquid than with meat and add in some additional flavours such as herbs and spices, marmite, Bisto, balsamic and other vinegars, Worcester sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, stock cubes or bullion etc.

A note of caution…..
However there is a note of caution with Quorn. Some people are violently allergic to quorn and it is thought this is linked to people who are allergic to certain fungi. I have a friend who will be really sick within hours of eating any quorn – tough for him as he is a mainly veggie! Although its believed the numbers of people allergic are relatively small, if you are new to quorn and you are ill after eating it (or if you get ill after eating a lot) then maybe you are one of those people.

So what are you waiting for? How about trying quorn soon in….
Bolognaise, curry, chilli, lasagne, stir fry, pasta sauce, with couscous or rice, sausage casseroles, cottage pie, roast dinner, fry-ups, steaks on their own with salsa and salad, meat loaf, paella, risotto, Thai curry….

How to choose the right New Year diet for you

January is the month when most people go on a diet spurred on by new years resolutions to lose weight and regain a slimmer figure. Most of us will have put on weight over Christmas and sadly most will not lose it. The start of the new year is a great time to decide to, at the least, shift any new festive season weight, and maybe to shift a few extra pounds as well. But how do you decide what is the best diet for you? And how can you keep motivated when your diet becomes hard?

January is ‘diet month’
Research suggests that 30 days is enough time for most of us to develop new habits. So if you tell yourself that January will be diet month this may help. 30 days is really not a long time to try something different as this brilliant (and short) talk on TED.com explains.

Decide which diet based on your habits and likes and dislikes:
We also know that people are more likely to diet successfully if you do one of the formalised diets, and especially if you have a group to go to or a way to check in with your diet and actual weight loss progress. But how do you decide from the plethora of diets out there? I am not aligned to any particular diet as I think different diets work for different people. But we all need impartial information, so, bearing that in mind here are some ideas to help you decide:

  • Think about what you find hardest when dieting. If you can’t stand being hungry or find that when you are all you think about is fattening food then go for a diet which allows you to eat as much as you want of some foods – for example Slimming World, the Atkins or Dukan diets. Remember though that which foods you can eat will be restricted. So if you are the kind of person who needs to have a taste of lots of different foods and you can cope with eating just small amounts of foods you like then choose a diet which allows this in small portions, such as Weight Watchers or many of the diets you find in magazines.
  • Think about how much weight you want to lose and how long you want to lose it over. To lose a lot of weight quickly you’ll probably need to do what’s called a Very Low Calorie Diet (VCLD) such as Lighterlife, Cambridge Diet or Celebrity Slim. I did Lighterlife and it was brilliant for me because you get counselling as well but you do need to be really committed to not eat other food and you need to think about what you will do afterwards to not just put the weight back on afterwards.
  • Think about what happens after the diet. Do you also need your diet to help you change your eating and activity habits after you finish the diet? If so think about what it is you need to change and choose a diet which will help you do this. Or it maybe you decide to mix diets – to choose a diet which is not too challenging at first to get that initial weight loss and then to change to one which will help you change your habits afterwards. You could also choose a diet which has a maintenance phase such as the South Beach Diet, or a Low Gi diet which is a lifelong eating plan.

If you need support from others choose a diet that offers a group near you and at times that suit you. Most of the big diet companies have loads of local groups.

My choice:
Well I need to shift about half a stone so I’ve decided to start with a protein and veg based diet – I’ll try the Slimming World Success Express but with no carbs to speed my weight loss for a couple of weeks. If its going well and I’m finding it possible to stick to then I’ll stay with this. If not, I’ll go back to Lighterlife and do some counseling as well to support the weight loss.

Lastly – don’t give up!
If you choose a diet and you find it’s not for you, don’t assume that you can’t diet and just give up. Instead, sit down and think about what you find hard and then look at other diets to see if they might be easier for you to stick with.

Remember everyone has bad days when dieting so don’t let a bad day be the end of yours. Don’t beat yourself up, accept you’ve had a bad day, smile and just tell yourself it will be better tomorrow.

Good luck and let us know on here how you get on!

How to survive Xmas Tip no 5 – Dont panic!!

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 5:
Don’t panic! You always have January to deal with any extra festive weight.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Even if you follow all these tips you may still end up putting on SOME extra weight. It’s pretty inevitable if you eat or drink more than usual, you eat different foods and do less exercise. So don’t beat yourself up or give yourself a hard time; accept it’s inevitable and decide that you will deal with it in January. BUT MAKE SURE YOU DO! Research suggests that most people don’t lose the weight they gain over Christmas – and year on year that could add up.

From just cutting things out through to a full-on diet
For some people, all they will need to do to get back to normal is to cut out the extras they’ve been having – such as cakes, chocolates, take-aways or even alcohol – for a few weeks.

Other people may need to go a bit further and cut out foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice for a few weeks. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. A bolognaise sauce or a chilli can be just as good on a bed of salad leaves as on pasta or rice. Just swapping your morning toast for a bowl of porridge may be easier than you think, and it will keep you feeling fuller for longer. If you do have carbs such as bread, pasta or rice, always keep them brown as wholegrains don’t turn to fat in the same way as refined carbs.

You may decide you need to go on a formal diet. Research shows that people who follow a recognised programme where they are part of a group or structured programme do better than those who try to go it alone. Remember there are loads of different diets and different ones suit different people. So think about the diet you choose carefully and whether it is one that will suit you. If you try one and it’s not for you, look at others rather than totally just giving up; there’s bound to be one that suits you.

Go to rule no 4 -Dont slump – find ways to be active

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 4

 

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 4:
Don’t slump – still try and keep active.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

It’s just too tempting to be a couch potato over the holiday period. We’re often indoors for longer and our usual routines go out of the window. So be conscious of this and try and find ways to get as active as you can during the holiday period.

  • Try to avoid internet shopping – going to the supermarket uses up calories. See filling your shopping trolley as a workout and enjoy! Can you make shopping for presents a day out? Go by public transport, walk round loads of shops, carry bags and enjoy!
  • Go for family walks. Wrap up warm and all go out together and make it a lovely social occasion. Make it a part of your holiday.
  • Play games with the kids and get as active as possible – really go for it on the Wii. Choose active games rather than sitting watching the TV.
  • If you go to parties,  be the king or queen of the dance-floor. Boogie on down all night and burn off those calories.
  • Find other little ways to be as active as possible – if you’re on holiday from work,  you have more time – so use it! Park your car a bit away when you go out. Do small shops at local shops and walk. Use public transport as much as you can. Keep things upstairs so you have to keep running up stairs to get them. Get amorous! Having sex is a great way to burn off calories.

Go to rule no 3 – Plan, plan, plan!

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 3!

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 3:
Plan, plan, plan. Plan all your meals and food throughout the festive season, including the days after Christmas. Balance sugary, fatty high calorie food and drink with other low fat, high protein, high fibre fat burning meals.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Do a meal plan for the whole festive season, including after Christmas. Think about your meals across a day and week so that if you know you’ll be at parties and/or eating out and eating high-calorie, sugary, or fatty food you can balance these against other meals which are fat-burning and slow-release. You can download a Festive Season Meal Planner here.

Remember that not all calories are equal. Some foods turn to fat more quickly than others (such as refined, fatty, sugary and many processed foods) and should be avoided. But others, like low GI foods and fat-burning foods keep you feeling fuller for longer, help boost your metabolism or take more energy to digest. So you need to fill up with these foods and plan meals that include:

  • Loads of fruit and vegetables – try to fill over half your plate with vegetables.
  • Lean protein – lean meat or veggie alternatives such as soya, quorn, pulses and nuts.
  • High-fibre – go for brown over white. Avoid all refined carbs such as white pasta, rice, flour, bread etc and instead choose brown pasta, rice, bread etc. Use oats and oatmeal in food where you can – it’s often easy to swap flour for oatmeal.
  • Low-fat dairy – such as skimmed milk or fat-free yoghurt.
  • Use as little fat as you can – choose virgin olive or coconut oil when you need oil.

Planning your meals will also mean you’re less likely to end up having take-aways. It’s easy to think they are quicker, cheaper and easier, but in fact I don’t think they are any of those things. They are also more likely to make you put on weight. So when you plan your meals, plan a number of really quick easy meals for the times you can’t be bothered – such as stir-fry, pasta or quick rice dishes like chilli. Another good hint is to make extra when you do cook and freeze it, so all you need to do is pop into the microwave.

Manage your sugar rushes
Remember that when you have a lot of sugar it brings on sugar rushes which means you are more likely to crave more sugary food. So on Boxing Day and the days after Christmas, plan to eat as much slow-release Low GI and fat-burning food as possible. This will help you manage your blood sugar and help to reduce sugar cravings. Get Low GI and Fat Burning foods here.

Go to rule no 2 – Christmas is a social time.

Surviving Christmas & manage your weight – Rule no 2!

 

Peg Alexander worried about XmasCan you have a Lite Christmas? Can you enjoy yourself this festive season and not become the Christmas pudding? Of  course you can; just follow my 5 Golden Rules of Christmas.

Golden Rule of Christmas No 2:
Christmas is a social time – so think about how you will deal with people who you know find it hard when you are careful about your food and drink. Just because others are eating and drinking doesn’t mean you have to.

Watch the video about this Golden Rule here.

Unfortunately we all know someone who finds it hard to accept other people’s decisions about food and drink. For example people who want you to eat loads – like Mrs Doyle in Father Ted (Go on, go on, you will, you will, you will!) This can be really hard if you are staying with others over Christmas and you feel you have to follow their food and drink habits.

So remember that mostly, this is THEIR issue, not yours. Think about anyone in your life with whom, when you spend time with them, you find it hard to keep to your food and drink decisions. Have a think about why this is and try to talk to them BEFORE the holiday period about why you want to make certain food and drink choices, about how important this is to you, and ask them to help you keep to these decisions. Offer to sort out your own food if this will make it easier. How about asking for this as your Christmas present! Remember, just because other people eat or drink to excess this doesn’t mean you have to.

Go to rule no 1 – Christmas dinner is not the problem.

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.