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body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, December 5, 2014
Exactly how much weight we gain
over the festive season is open to
debate. Some studies claim it s a
mere one pound, while others say
it s as many as five. But one thing s
for sure: the scales are likelier to go
up than down.
"We take in about 500 extra calories
a day over Christmas," says dietician
Helen Bond. "And when you think a
mince pie has about 230 calories and
a small chocolate about 50, it s easy to
see how the nibbles tot up."
With all the festive merriment and
tempting treats, our self-control and
sense of fullness tend to go out of the
window. So we explore the reasons
things often go wrong and offer expert
tips to help you curb the calories.
It's only once a year
Because Christmas lasts for a lim-
ited period, many of us see it as a
green light to overindulge. But we
need to get out of this mindset, says
dietician Juliette Kellow.
"Many of us take a devil-may-care
attitude to what we eat and drink at
Christmas. We do it at many other
times of the year too, including Valen-
tine s Day, Easter and Mother s
Day...and that s before we take
account of holidays, birthdays and
anniversary celebrations," she says.
"But constantly viewing special
occasions as an opportunity to splurge
on fat and calories can seriously pile
on the pounds over the course of a
Food looks more attractive
How food is presented can influence
how much we eat. A beautifully festive
table dressed with all the best glass-
ware and crockery offers the promise
that the food will taste amazing. In
one US study the researchers found
that when people were offered a piece
of the same chocolate brownie on a
napkin, paper plate or china plate
they reported it tasted far better when
eaten from the China plate. And if
something tastes better we re more
likely to go back for more.
Too much choice
You feel you should spoil everyone
at Christmas with more than one spe-
cial main course so you glaze a ham
or roast a joint of beef as well as the
traditional turkey. Then you worry
not everyone likes the richness of
mince pies, Christmas pudding and
cake so you bring a trifle, some bis-
cuits and an assortment of chocolates
to the table too, just in case. And so
it goes on.
We re all susceptible to sensory-
specific satiety, a phenomenon that
explains why we get bored with eating
just one type of food. But being pre-
sented with a variety of tempting edi-
bles encourages us to keep eating long
after we ve had enough. In fact variety
attracts us to such an extent that
researchers from America s Cornell
University found we eat more sweets
if they come in different colours.
Ways to curb the calorie count
1Go easy at breakfast. If you
know you re having a big lunch,
have a light breakfast.
2Avoid grazing. "My party rule
is don t eat standing up," says
Dr Dawn Harper. "If you promise
yourself you ll eat only when sitting
at a table you ll be amazed by how
many excess calories you save on end-
less canapés, crisps and nuts."
3Scan before you serve. Fa c ed
with a buffet, resist the temp-
tation to start filling your plate at one
end of the table and continuing to
add to it until you reach the other.
"Portion control at a buffet can be
difficult for even the most determined
healthy eater," says Helen. So before
you pick up a plate, pause to look at
all that s on offer. Decide on three
things you re going to enjoy most and
then help yourself to these and only
these.4Don t skip meals. This can lead
to later binges.
5Keep healthy snacks. Having
these in your bag can be helpful
during last-minute Christmas shop-
ping.6Clear the decks. Clear the table
when everyone has finished
eating and move into another room.
Don t linger (and eat more!)
7Cut down on carbs. Try replac-
ing roast spuds with sweet pota-
toes.8Be mindful. "Don t lose touch
with your internal appetite reg-
ulators," says Bridget. "Listen to your
body and give it a chance to feel hun-
gry before you eat. I try to make sure
I really savour the indulgent things
and eat them slowly and mindfully
so I don t go overboard."
9Earn your treats. Exercise reg-
10Factor in the drinks. Alcohol
is packed with empty calo-
ries.11Treat sweets as treats. "If you
have a tin of chocolates, avoid
hoovering up the whole lot ...Put a
small handful in a bowl and the rest
out of sight.
12Pace yourself. Burning the
candle at both ends affects
...have a healthy Christmas!
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Because Christmas lasts for a limited period, many of us see it as a green light to overindulge. But we need
to get out of this mindset, says dietician Juliette Kellow. "Many of us take a devil-may-care attitude to what
we eat and drink at Christmas."
Ways to curb your calorie intake
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