The festive season requires some guerrilla tactics if you don’t want to enter the New Year wearing what you ate at Christmas! Patrick has some simple tips for keeping weight in check, not compromising on long term health and still being able to enjoy the pleasures of good food, drink and company this holiday season.
1. Always eat protein with carbs.
Combining protein with carbohydrate works because protein, being made of amino acids, makes the digestive environment more acidic, and this slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates. So, the food spends more time in your stomach, making you feel fuller for longer giving you the strength to say no thank you to dessert!
2. Add lemon juice and vinegar.
The old wives’ tale about cider vinegar and weight loss is true! By increasing the acidity level of your food by adding lemon juice (citric acid) you can lower the glycaemic load (GL) of your meal and similarly by adding vinegar (acetic acid) to your meal will also result in less high blood sugar spikes.
In practical terms, this means eating a salad with a vinegary salad dressing, drinking a citron pressé (minus the sugar) with food, adding balsamic vinegar for flavour to a meal or if you have to have chips make sure you add lashings of vinegar. Research has also found that adding lemon juice or vinegar while cooking reduces the formation of ‘anti-glycation end-products’ (AGEs), the harmful oxidant compounds that are formed when food is cooked.
3. Load up on soluble fibre and chew chew chew.
Fill yourself up on soluble fibre found in oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, cucumbers, celery, and carrots. Foods containing soluble fibre fill you up, for longer, and lower the GL of a meal. Foods rich in beta-glucan (found in soluble fibre) stay in the stomach for a longer period of time compared to foods low in this fibre leading to a feeling of fullness, or satiety. Make sure to eat slowly and chew your food well as this means you take longer to eat your meal and will therefore eat less.
4. Wait 20 minutes before eating dessert.
This allows your ‘appestat’ (your internal appetite gauge) to kick in. Even better, go for a stroll in the garden (or a spin on the dance floor) after your main meal, then have your dessert afterwards. This helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and if you eat immediately after exercise your body burns it off faster.
5. Drink ‘dry’ and limit juice.
More and more evidence is linking regular consumption of both sweetened soft drinks and even ‘natural’ fruit juices with increased weight gain and diabetes risk. For example, a large study of 59,000 women (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008) found that drinking two or more sugar-sweetened soft drinks increases diabetes risk by 25%, while drinking two or more fruit juice drinks increases risk by 31%. So neither are good news. But what may surprise many is that fruit juice appears worse. This is because fructose, while low GL, rapidly converts into fat if taken in excess.
For alcohol, choose the driest drinks – for example, a dry red or white wine or Champagne. If you don’t like wine or champagne, then clearer spirits like Vodka, Gin and Whiskey are also lower in calories, if you drink it with a tonic, water or soda water as a mixer.
Alcohol is an ‘anti-nutrient’. Although some forms of alcohol (such as stout or red wine) do deliver a few nutrients, alcohol itself is a potent destroyer of these same nutrients. It also affects your nutrient intake by disturbing the digestion and absorption of food, and suppressing appetite. Patrick therefore suggests that if you want to drink to do so moderately, sticking to less than one drink a day.
And if you know you will be indulging a little more than usual this festive season be sure to increase your intake of daily supplements to ensure you get enough B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc needed during the holiday season.
THE “FEEL FULL” FIBRE SOLUTION
Another little “helping hand” is Patrick’s Carbo Slow Fibre which consists of the highly absorbent plant fibre called Konjak Glucomannan. Fibre assists in lowering the GL of a meal.