Many people see the festive season as ‘blow-out’ time, when they don’t have to think about their health or their waistline until after the New Year. However, the average person puts on 5 to 10 pounds between November and January!
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. If you have read about the Holford Low-GL Diet, then you will be familiar with the concept of 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.
Ten golden rules and top tips that really help
1 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; a serving of Get Up & Go, which has protein from quinoa, soya and rice, plus I add a spoonful of chia seeds which are high protein; or a bowl of oatflakes with a flat dessert spoon of chia seeds.
In addition to this I take a teaspoon (or three capsules) of glucomannan fibre with a large glass of water with my breakfast. Glucomannan has consistently been shown to help weight loss. It is either taken as a powder in a 5 gram serving, or as three capsules before meals, always with a large glass of water. 5 grams of this fibre absorbs about one litre of water. Taken three times a day this means about 3 litres more ‘bulk’ in the stomach and intestines, making you feel much fuller.
2 Avoid sugary, starchy carbohydrates and choose low-GL, unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables instead.
3 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.
4 Eat protein and 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.
5 Load up on soluble fibre. Soluble fibre, found foods like oats and barley, really fills you up and lowers the GL of a meal. So, make the most of the colder weather to eat lots of porridge or make a warming dish with Organic nutrient-rich Kamut® ancient wheat bulgur instead of rice.
6 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 burns it off faster.
7 I also like the mineral chromium for blood sugar control – see the short article link below about other supplements that can help with sugar cravings and appetite control.
8 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.
9 Try some delicious sugar free recipes for Christmas – including Christmas pudding, cranberry sauce, mulled wine and mince pies– delicious! (See Patrick’s article next Wednesday for some recipe ideas)
10 And if you really do over-indulge and need to shift some pounds – or would just welcome some more guidance on eating well to avoid weight gain – there’s always my Low-GL Diet Cookbook and Food Glorious Food for some fantastic recipes.
Keeping hormone balance over the festive season is not always easy, but remember that biodentical natural progesterone is a great help in keeping extra pounds at bay. Your hormones are also affected by stress, and who doesn’t have a more stressful time at Christmas, so keep an eye out for that too.
To learn more about Patrick Holfords work or his supplements visit his website at www.patrickholford.com and here is a a list of useful articles on weight loss to give you an extra boost.
Patrick Holford’s Supplements to support weight loss article will appear next Wednesday, in time to help for Christmas!