Many people see the festive season as ‘blowout’ time, when they don’t have to think about their health or their waistline until the New Year. However, the average person puts on 2 to 4kg between November and January each year!
And while there is nothing wrong with throwing caution to the wind and over-indulging once in a while, the problem lies with the fact that the sugary foods and drinks we consume over Christmas are addictive – and most people find it harder than anticipated to go back to a healthier lifestyle come January.
The answer is not to deprive yourself entirely, but to eat smart says Patrick.
“The key is eating low-GL foods to keep your blood sugar balanced, boost your energy and increase weight loss. This way of eating can be applied just as easily to the festive season as to any other time of year – limiting the damage you do to your waistline over Christmas,” says Patrick.
He suggests the following golden rules and top tips to avoid a festive season blowout!
- Start your day with a protein and fibre rich breakfast. It will help you lose weight and curb your appetite, avoiding the sugar highs and lows of a coffee and a croissant or skipping breakfast altogether. “My favourite options are two eggs with one piece of wholegrain rye toast or three oatcakes or a bowl of oats with a flat dessert spoon of chia seeds,” says Patrick.
- Avoid sugary, starchy carbohydrates and choose low-GL, unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables instead.
- Eat regular meals (three meals a day plus two snacks in between) to keep your blood sugar balanced and avoid hunger pangs that lead to being tempted by naughty treats.
- Eat protein and (unrefined) carbohydrates together. Carbohydrates are quickly broken down into sugar, whereas protein is digested much more slowly. By eating the two together, the protein helps to slow the release of sugar from the carbohydrates into the bloodstream, making you feel fuller for longer.
- Load up on soluble fibre. Soluble fibre, found in foods like oats and barley, really fill you up and lower the GL of a meal.
- Wait 20 minutes before dessert. This allows your ‘appestat’ (your internal appetite gauge) to kick in. Even better, go for a stroll after your main meal, then have your dessert afterwards, which also helps stabilise blood sugar levels. If you eat immediately after exercise your body also burns it off faster.
- I also like the mineral chromium for blood sugar control, says Patrick. Chromium can help with sugar cravings and appetite control.
- 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. The best fruit to eat, and drink, are those high in a type of sugar called xylose, which means berries, cherries and plums. For alcohol, choose the driest drinks – for example, a dry red or white wine or Champagne.