Excesses at Christmas, can we avoid them?

At Christmas time, our figure can suffer and gastronomy is one of the undisputed protagonists at this time of the year. In fact, Christmas menus are usually copious meals where fats, proteins, alcohol and sugars predominate. And, in addition, we introduce products that we are not used to consume on a daily basis. Extra kilos, heavy digestions, high cholesterol and uric acid levels and even migraines seem to be guaranteed. What can we do? To begin with, about falling into temptation: “the best way to overcome it is to fall into it headfirst”. So, let’s enjoy food but with moderation, and let’s put into practice some strategies offered by Dr. Montse Folch, specialist in Nutrition and Dietetics, to help us keep our heads.

How to plan our Christmas meals and know our limit.

What foods are the most recommended?

The best way to avoid the anxiety for lunch or dinner is to make all the intakes of the day without skipping any, that is to say, 5 daily. It is a mistake not to have dinner the day before or not to have breakfast the same day, since in the following intake we will eat more. In addition, if we keep the metabolism active, we spend more energy. It also helps to drink even if you are not thirsty. Consuming between 1.5 and 2 liters of water a day is the healthiest way to fight thirst and purify the body. It also keeps the body hydrated and helps it to eliminate accumulated fat. A trick: drinking two glasses of water or green tea before main meals produces a great feeling of satiety.

Modify snacks

It is preferable to avoid alcohol in snacks and leave it for the meal so as not to start adding calories. It can be replaced by a natural juice. It is better to eat low-calorie, diuretic and depurative fruits and vegetables, such as pineapple, melon, papaya, kiwi, celery, cucumber, tomato and aloe vera, which also help metabolize fats and work as a natural laxative. Carbonated beverages, such as soft drinks, are not a good option either, as they bloat and make digestion slower and heavier afterwards. If you have no choice but to accept them, try to drink them in their zero or light version so as not to add the calories of their sugar, and eliminate the gas by stirring the contents of the glass with a spoon, as if we wanted to dissolve a pill.

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As for which foods to choose, mini-salads and crudités are always a good choice, since the stomach has a harder time digesting raw foods and spends more calories. They also provide vitamins and minerals. Of course, it is important to eat them slowly so that they do not produce gas. And turkey, Iberian cured meats, sushi, seafood, especially shellfish – oysters and scallops – are the options that provide the least fat, cholesterol and uric acid. Of course, it is important that the portions are small and avoid accompanying them with sauces. If it is done, it is necessary to bear in mind that the lightest ones are those elaborated with yogurt, tomato or aromatic herbs. And it is necessary to try to dress the plates with the vinaigrette of always. Vinegar and salt can also be replaced with low-fat yogurt, mustard, honey, oregano, pepper, garlic or lemon. Spray dispensers help to control the amount of oil used. Make sure it is extra virgin olive oil, and do not consume more than 2 or 3 tablespoons a day.

Eating with common sense

The first thing to do is to remove the salt shaker, bread basket and butter from the table. And if you cannot resist the temptation it is preferable that the bread be wholemeal, since it provides fiber, with fewer calories it satiates more, keeps blood sugar levels at bay and helps regulate intestinal transit. First of all, it is necessary to avoid the broths that you see thicker, since they are usually very concentrated and contain a lot of fat coming from meats like the calf, the lamb, the pork or the skin of the chicken. If you have made it yourself, let it cool in the refrigerator for 6 or 8 hours so that the fat solidifies in the upper layer and is easy to remove with a spoon. If not, you can always dip bread crumbs in the broth to absorb the fat and remove it.

You can also take Garcinia Cambogia tablets beforehand. This plant has a thermogenic effect, reduces fat storage, accelerates metabolism and helps to eliminate the accumulated fats. For starters, a traditional and good option is always red cabbage, asparagus or artichokes, as they satiate and contain fiber that helps regulate intestinal transit. Secondly, it is better to choose fish or seafood than meat, baked or steamed. The fat of these is unsaturated and has less cholesterol. In addition, they provide Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A and D, iodine, potassium, magnesium and iron. It is advisable to wash down the food with red wine, better than white wine, as it contains more antioxidants, less sugars and less calories than white wine (70 Kcal compared to 100 Kcal). Try to drink a maximum of two glasses.

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What do we do with Christmas sweets?

Any fast-absorbing sugar, such as fruit, desserts or nougat, consumed after eating, stimulates the production of insulin, i.e. the hormone that slows down the breakdown of fats and blocks weight loss. However, if it is not possible to skip their consumption, it is possible to opt for fruits that contain bromelain (helps digestion), such as pineapple and papaya, and for those that are more acidic and rich in fiber, water and antioxidant vitamins, such as strawberries, pomegranates, red fruits, kiwi, apple and pear. And keep in mind that, of the processed desserts, the least caloric are sorbets and meringues, as they provide very little fat and cholesterol.

And what about nougat? It’s impossible not to succumb to it at this time of year! But make sure they are the most traditional version. Do not abuse any type of nougat, it is preferable to take them in limited portions, no more than 10 grams per serving, which is equivalent to about 50 calories, and opt for the classics (almond, sugar and honey), as the thousand varieties that have been invented by industrial confectioners are often real calorie bombs.

There is nothing wrong with toasting and drinking a glass of cava or champagne, but it is always advisable to finish with an infusion of green tea, dandelion, horsetail, gentian, wormwood, chamomile, mint, anise or boldo leaf, to improve digestion, increase diuresis, prevent bloating and gas, and detoxify the body. And if you are one of those who cannot go without coffee, it is preferable to ask for it black or with skim milk, and stevia instead of sugar.

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Most recommended exercise

Try to be the last one to finish eating, allow yourself a break between courses, and don’t take an after-dinner break, which is a great temptation to continue snacking. Instead, it is better to take a walk. Strolling or brisk walking, cycling, going up and down stairs… Any exercise, especially aerobic, is the most advisable on these holidays. Do it when we feel like it, but it is a great way to finish a meal or Christmas dinner.

What to eat when we are away from home?

  • In a cocktail. It is advisable to start with a tomato juice to quench your appetite and thirst. Then select the lowest fat trays: Serrano ham, turkey, raw or steamed seafood, cherry tomato and mozzarella skewers, crudités, salmon and tuna. And avoid those of battered, fried, sausages, cheeses, foie gras and puff pastries. For dessert it is better to eat fruit brochettes. For their fiber and water content, the most advisable are pineapple, kiwi and strawberries.
  • In a buffet. It is necessary to choose to prepare a single dish, combined type, and not to get up again from the table. And opt for the simplest preparations: vegetables, vegetables and legumes in salad, cooked or sautéed provide a lot of fiber, have few calories and satiate a lot. And turkey, chicken, fish or seafood grilled, broiled or baked are a better option than red meat. A fact: 100 grams of fish provide 85 calories compared to 120 calories of meat.
  • In a restaurant. Closed menus offer caloric dishes to leave us satisfied. It is preferable to choose from the menu and order everything at once, including dessert. First the main course: turkey, chicken, fish or seafood grilled, baked, grilled or steamed, accompanied by cooked or sautéed vegetables. Then the rest of the menu depending on fat and calories. It can be completed with a vegetable soup, artichoke cream or asparagus. It is also a good option to choose two first courses or to share a dish. And to finish, a diuretic infusion.