Is it possible to still enjoy the fantastic festive food while also making healthy eating decisions? Or to put it another way, can you have your turkey and eat it too?
According to Edith Cowan University (ECU) Nutrition and Dietetics Associate Professor Amanda there are ways to avoid the post-holidays bulge while still enjoying great food.
Here are her top tips to enjoy the festive season without having to pay for it in the New Year.
Don’t starve yourself
Professor Devine said eating less before a big meal may actually do more harm than good.
“Fasting causes low blood sugar which triggers the liver to release stores of the hormone glucagon,” she said.
“If the levels of glucagon in the liver fall too low, the body starts to crave protein and fat as alternatives to generate energy.
“This is why when you have low blood sugar as a result of fasting you may be more likely to make poor food choices.”
Set realistic expectations
Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals like trying to lose weight over the holidays, Professor Devine said.
Instead, aim to maintain your current weight over Christmas.
“This way you won’t get despondent if you don’t get the results you wanted and give up on trying altogether.”
Control serving sizes
One of the most effective ways to prevent over eating is to manage your portion sizes.
Laboratory studies have shown that people provided with large servings of food eat significantly more – up to 30 per cent more – than people given normal sized servings.
“It has been found people are also unlikely to compensate for the excess energy eaten by reducing their intake from their next meal,” Professor Devine said.
“If you tend to eat everything on the plate in front of you, try using an entrée plate instead of a dinner plate.”
Alcoholic beverages are part of many Christmas celebrations but it is important to remember they contain extra kilojoules, but no important nutrients.
“Low alcoholic beer and wine contain less kilojoules than their full strength counterparts,” Professor Devine said.
But nutritionally, there was little difference between low-carbohydrates and normal beer.
“As a host, always offer your guests water and provide non-alcoholic drinks.”