The festive season has well and truly arrived, bringing with it endless Christmas parties from the office end-of-year 'do to New Year's Eve bashes. However, a busy social calendar can be somewhat daunting if you're trying to stick to a healthy diet – and while you need to allow yourself the occasionally indulgence, it can be difficult to restrain yourself when you're surrounded by delicious festive treats.
Weight Watchers have revealed that almost half of British men and women admitted they dread the Christmas party season out of fear of gaining weight – but you don't need to deprive yourself of fun to keep your waistline intact. Sophie Hardy, the Official Eating Officer at Weight Watchers, reveals her top tips for navigating the party season without undoing your hard work…
"Christmas is a time when temptation is all around and it can be really tough to avoid but I want to prove to people that living a healthy lifestyle does not mean you cannot enjoy food," she says. "It is about enjoying a little bit of the things you love and making sensible choices so that you do not over indulge. I have been eating out more than twice a week for the last ten weeks and have lost 47lbs with Weight Watchers, so festive fun definitely does not have to be avoided!"
There are easy ways to stick to your diet this party season
Sophie's top tips:
Never arrive on an empty stomach
Preparing for the party by having healthy snacks beforehand means that you will not be tempted to reach for the high calorific nibbles, and it serves to help line your stomach for the night ahead.
If there’s a set menu, plan ahead
If you want to opt for something fried, battered or glazed then keep an eye on your drinks. Consider substituting creamy heavy drinks, such as Bailey’s, for clear spirits with a slim line mixer. The key is to make allowances for the things you love, in a sensible portion size, and to reflect this choice in your other festive treats.
Set yourself a drink allowance
Remember to choose tall, thin glasses because we pour 30 per cent more alcohol into short, squat glasses. Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. It is a reliable trick for helping to ease the inevitable hangover, and will also serve to moderate your intake of sugary alcoholic drinks. A large glass of wine can have roughly 180 calories, but you can make it last longer by adding ice.
Use visual reminders to keep track of your food intake
A visual reminder of what you have eaten is a good way to keep track of consumption and can help deter you from eating more. Holding onto the cocktail napkin from each canapé is a simple way of doing this.
Sophie suggests planning ahead if there's a set menu
Get some exercise in before you go out to earn that extra drink. Don't forget Christmas parties are meant to be fun so hit the dance floor - it is a great way to burn extra calories.
Make small changes
Make small adjustments to your plate of food to help bring down your overall calorie count. For example, having one less cheese straw or taking the top off your mince pie. It does not change the taste, but can make a big difference overall.
Don't reach for greasy food if you have a hangover
A banana is gentle on a queasy stomach and will help with restoring your blood sugar levels for the morning after. If you are heading for the greasy spoon, go grilled or scrambled and hold on the butter.
Remember most importantly that it is meant to be a fun time of the year. Enjoy Christmas Day and Boxing Day but do not use that as an excuse to blow out for two weeks. It is all about balance, just be more mindful about the food you are eating on the days after. Never restrict yourself from what you love, just moderate and be sensible.
For more information visit weightwatchers.com/uk/official-eating-officer