Diet blog: guilt-free Christmas tips

Judith Wills / 13 December 2017

Why a few days of over-indulgence doesn’t add up to a lot – and how to shed that extra pound or two with ease.

I have no idea where those last few weeks have sped to but the fact is I’m still elbow deep in baking Christmassy food things, not only the usuals like cake, but also for presents and for the freezer; having attempted to clean the house, put up decorations, order enough food and drink for everyone who’s coming to eat and/or stay over the next three weeks, and make my own holly wreath for the door. 

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On top of all the time involved (which I don’t resent really otherwise I wouldn’t do it I guess), I also noticed, while hovering over a batch of Mary Berry frangipane topped mince pies (best mince pie recipe ever, try it!) to ensure they didn’t burn, a hint of guilt creeping in. 

This guilt seemed to be about worrying over a deliberate attempt on my part to ensure that I make everyone I know fatter and less healthy than they currently are.  After all – what are mince pies, peanut butter chocolate brownies, old-fashioned sherry trifles, Christmas pudding, etc etc, if nor superfluous calorie, sugar and fat-laden items that should not appear on the tables of any self-respecting diet and nutrition guru who loves their nearest and dearest and wants them to live for ages?

Yes – answer me that, please, in no more than 10 words. 

Actually, I’ve answered this whole tricky problem of the festive season and food/drink consumption myself now, but thanks for trying.  Here is the answer:   There is no need to worry!  No need to feel guilty either for making your loved ones eat too much, nor for doing so yourself!! 

And here’s why – it doesn’t matter!  No, honestly.  It doesn’t.  I have worked out, quite scientifically, why you can more or less consume to your tastebuds content. On a ‘normal’ day you will probably eat and drink around 2000 calories.  But, according to a new survey from Wren Kitchens, on Christmas Day the average adult consumes around 5,000 calories.

So you are only 3,000 calories in the red, as it were.  So all you need to do next year is consume eight – yes just eight – calories a day less than you normally would, and you will claw back your 3,000 calories without having to go anywhere near a diet.  Should you also indulge on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve to a similar level, you will be looking at having to consume a monumental 24 calories a day less during 2018. 

A price well worth paying for having a good time at Christmas?  That is up to you – I’m just saying, in the grand scheme, short-term over-indulgence isn’t the end of the world.  That’s all. 

What I think I will be doing is combining this great method of not having to worry, with the more conventional thing of cutting down slightly where I know I won’t miss it.  For those of you who want to try this, here are my own top cuts/strategies to make that won’t spoil my festive season one bit:

  • Smoked salmon and scrambled egg Christmas morning – fab lowish, reasonably healthy breakfast and long-term filling enough so you haven’t eaten all the crisps by lunchtime, only some of them.
  • Dish up your own dinner and give yourself a reasonable portion rather than piling it all on.  You can always go back for seconds ….
  • Similarly with the pud – and go for the Christmas pudding, which takes much longer to eat than does trifle or other creamy dessert so you tend to eat more of those.
  • Get the icing off your Christmas cake – let’s face it, it isn’t all that nice anyway.  Just a load of boring white sugar.
  • Out of sight is out of mind so don’t load every surface in the house with snacks.  For those who feel genuinely hungry in the hours after Christmas lunch, tell them where the snacks are kept and to help themselves!
  • Drinks – champagne is a great low-calorie drink, and so is a white wine spritzer.  If you don’t like that heavy, ‘want to sleep’ feeling that usually descends on all after lunch, don’t make it worse by having lots of heavy red wine or port.  Save that for later in the evening.   
  • Boxing Day lunch is a great occasion to dish up a delicious but fairly healthy feast – the leftover turkey and ham along with some lovely salads such as chopped new potatoes with mint and French dressing; celery, walnut and apple salad; sliced Comice pears with a sprinkling of Roquefort or Stilton on a bed of red chicory leaves; beetroot, feta and pomegranate salad with fine balsamic vinegar.

If despite all that you do manage to reach that 5,000 target or thereabouts (which would translate to around an extra 1½ lbs of bodyweight) – remember an extra eight calories can easily be burnt off by one minute of shovelling snow, 1.2 minutes of power walking, 2 minutes’ gardening; 1.2 minutes’ wild disco dancing or two minutes vacuuming. 

And if you would prefer to get back into the black by removing the right number of calories from your diet – that’s easy too.  8 calories is 3g bread or 12g potato or 1.2g butter. 

Do-able, isn’t it?   The moral of this tale is – none of us eat exactly the same amount each day, we vary according to what is happening, how we feel, and so on.  You eat more than you need one day – you adapt when you can.  Balancing hunger and satiety along with what happens in your life should be all you need to quickly lose the pound or two you put on over the festive season and/or keep it off for good.  Happy New Year to you all.

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