BDA’s top five tips for a healthy festive season

Posted on 13/12/2013 by

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Okay folks!  It’s that time of year again.  You’ve got your perfect party gear hanging in the wardrobe, your social diary has never been so full, every night there’s another party to go to (but you’re recording Strictly on Saturdays as you can’t miss that!) and you’re good to go for another month of Christmas partying!

Christmas is the party highlight for many of us and chances are you have been good in the run-up to December because you want to eat and drink a bit more than usual.  That’s normal, but just a word of warning, without wanting to dampen the festivities: the Christmas season is notorious for unexpected weight gain.

It is believed and accepted by many that the average person may eat an estimated 500 additional calories (kcal) a day over the Christmas season, resulting in a possible weight gain of 5lb.

The British Dietetic Association (BDA), founded in 1936, is the professional association for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 7,000 members.

 The BDA lists the top five tips to enjoying the festive party season while maintaining a healthy balance and a healthy body:

Eat hearty before the party!

Decide whether to fill up on food of your choice, or run the risk of a limited choice at the buffet table, usually consisting of fat-filled stodgy offerings like quiche, sausage rolls, pastries and deep-fried samosas, with copious amounts of mayo-enhanced dips.  Have something hearty, healthy and filling before you make your grand entrance, such as veg soup, low-fat hummus with oatcakes, fresh fruit and wholegrain cereal or a yogurt-based smoothie.  Also, this avoids drinking on an empty stomach and you won’t have to worry about spilling food over your best Christmas outfit!

Step to it!

If driving to your party, park a little further away and enjoy a brisk winter walk to the party, if you feel it’s safe to do so.  Not only will the walk be a good way to get a little exercise, it will also get the blood coursing through your veins and will inject you with a burst of energy.  Driving to the party also means you will avoid those calorific alcohol drinks and cocktails, but keep an eye on those soft drinks too as they can contain a lot of added sugar.  Go for a diet version if you can or add fizzy water to dilute juices and cordials.

Festive Fizz!

Noddy Holder and Slade are still being blasted at every single party you go to (please stop!!!).  Don’t let this, and that Mariah Carey offering, drive you to drink! Those inviting festive brightly-coloured cocktails are often full of added sugar, cream and hangover favourites, ‘congeners’ (mostly found in darker spirits like whisky and rum).  If you decide to drink try sticking to a refreshing white wine spritzer (less alcohol and fewer calories) and alternate your alcoholic drink with water, low calorie soft drinks or unsweetened fruit juice mixed with fizzy water.

Fill Your Festive Boots!

If you decide to eat at the party, go for the more healthy options, such as skinless chicken, salads without dressing, vegetable crudités with hummus.  Try to avoid creamy dips, mayo-loaded salads and fried foods, and the pastry offerings that will be in abundance.  Step away from temptation, visit only once and use a small dessert-sized plate.

Get Your Groove On!

Get those shoes to boogie the night away.  Hit the floor and bust some moves to all the Christmas classics such as Shakin’ Stevens, the Pogues featuring Kirsty McColl, East 17 and, undoubtedly, more Slade and Mariah!!!  Dancing is a great way of burning calories and it is also the perfect distraction from drinking and eating more.  Just remember to drink lots of water throughout the night to maintain your disco dancing prowess.

Giving her views on the Christmas party season, Sian Porter, consultant dietitians and BDA spokesperson said: “For many of us, myself included, the Christmas party season is the highlight of the year.  Not only is it a time of fun and celebration, it is often a time when we meet up with loved ones and family members that we have not seen all year.  However, with all the fun and partying it is really easy to lose track of all the extra calories we are eating.  Indeed, what fitted a treat on the 1st of December can become a little snug by the end of the month.

“It’s not about pouring water over the fun and festivities, it’s just about being a little mindful of what we consume during this festive season.  However you decide to approach the Christmas party season, the British Dietetic Association wishes everybody a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2014!”

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