Worried about bingeing on Christmas Day? Fear not, Dietitian Lisa Simpson has four top tips to curb those cravings

Christmas-overeating---thinkstock

1. START EATING EARLY
The single best way to prevent overeating on Christmas Day is simple, Simpson says. “Have a healthy and filling breakfast that morning to ensure you do not arrive ravenously hungry and minimise the likelihood of eating everything in sight.”

IN PRACTICE: Two poached eggs with steamed spinach, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, and a slice of wholegrain toast with a smear of avocado.

EAT WHAT YOU LIKE:
“Take a small plate and fill it with healthy options you will enjoy, along with one or two truly decadent items,” Simpson says. And stop at that one plate.

2. COUNT PLATES, NOT CALORIES
At Christmas lunch, it’s not the amount of food you eat but the energy density of your choices that counts. The key is not to restrict yourself to the blandest options ( ‘B’ is for Christmas night binge), but to combine your reasonable portions of your favourite energy-dense foods with tasty foods lower in energy (e.g., salad).

IN PRACTICE: “Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrot, asparagus, salad, mushrooms, cauliflower and zucchini. These vegetables are low in calories and will fill you up with great nutrition,” Simpson says. Keep your main protein, such as turkey, to a quarter of the plate and choose skin-free options (that does mean removing the pork crackling). To jazz it up, add a smear of cranberry sauce or teaspoon of gravy. Spoon, not gravy boat.

EAT WHAT YOU LIKE:
Feel free to heed the call of the roast potatoes, but keep these and other starchy vegies – think corn on the cob and peas – to a quarter of the plate.

3. FREEZE LEFTOVERS
Christmas comes but once a year, but then there’s Boxing Day. And if you skip brekkie (come on, fess up), by lunchtime a toasted turkey sanga and squashed fruitcake are going to look good. That’s not the problem; it’s the three basil chicken balls and stuffing you eat while you wait for the microwave that spell trouble.

IN PRACTICE: Simpson says the key to preventing Boxing Day overeating is to freeze some leftovers rather than leaving them ready-to-eat in the fridge.

EAT WHAT YOU LIKE:
Don’t eat yesterday’s food for the hell of it, or out of fear of wasting it. Instead, turn unloved portions into fresh meals. “Create healthy soups with leftover meats and freeze them for another day”.

4. SWITCH YOUR CHOICES
The second lunch can be a doozy. Sure, you’d rather play Twister with your sister-in-law’s only child than eat another thing, but the fam won’t take no for an answer. Result? You end up picking at things you don’t particularly like, less enjoy, and before you know it you’ve clocked up the calorie equivalent of a second main meal.

IN PRACTICE: If you can’t get around eating between lunch one and dinner (or if you feel like eating again), “consume foods that don’t provide the body with too much energy that probably won’t get used”.  Macronutrient-wise, Simpson advises choosing different foods in round two than round one. “Limit your carbohydrates on Christmas evening and instead go for non-starchy vegetables and lean protein, think a large salad and some seafood/lean ham or cold meats”.

EAT WHAT YOU LIKE: 
In line with Adams’ counsel to eat what you like mindfully and savour the pleasure factor, Simpson says you can treat lunch 2.0 as dessert. “If you really want trifle, then have it, but have a small serve and eat it slowly”. Her hot tip? Set a goal of “being the last person to finish dessert because you ate it slowly and savoured it.”

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