Christmas Calorie Nightmares

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© Copyright 2011 By Olivia Lennox , All Rights Reserved

It's a dreadful time of year for people who have fought to keep themselves ‘in the zone' for an extended period, and achieved some weight loss. There is simply no greater high than shedding a few pounds, and you don't want anything to throw you off balance. There seems to be a conspiracy in place for these people. No sooner is Easter over, than you have a holiday. But the luxury ski break comes with a free food at the hotel buffet. No sooner is that over than you have weeks of school holidays to get through, with hungry children demanding McDonalds and biscuits. Then there is Bonfire Night or Halloween, with toffee apples, a sea of trick or treat candy, treacle toffee and sausages. Then there is Thanksgiving, when you just have to give in for one day. And then, just as you have staggered to the end of the year, with your resolve battered but more or less intact… it's Christmas.

Seasonal Pitfalls

It's so difficult to stay focused during these festivities. The willpower required is quite astonishing, and I raise my hat to anyone who stays in their zone during these times. Being almost constantly surrounded by, or expected to provide, high calorie, delicious food for others is a side of weight loss that is not often discussed. It requires the most extraordinary focus, and sometimes the desire to just give in and indulge is overwhelming. It seems like there is no let up in the pressure you have to exert on yourself to ignore certain food choices. When your children were small there was party food to avoid; now they are teenagers they require vast quantities of food, seemingly all the time. The demand to keep teenage boys fed is particularly onerous. There is no end to their appetite.

Christmas is one time that retailer push hard to sell to the Seasonal Treat mindset. Not content with waiting until the event itself, there is a big push from the end of November to sell Christmas themed sandwiches, drinks, and snacks by retailers, who are betting on your ‘Oh it's Christmas, I'll get in the mood' weaknesses.

Hidden Calories

It was recently revealed that special treats from Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero contain more calories than a MacDonald's double cheeseburger. One particular drink that has caught the eye of dieticians is the Starbucks eggnog latte, which contains a whopping 579 calories , 24g of saturated fat, and 74g of sugar. That works out at about 18 teaspoons of sugar in one seasonal treat. Do you still think you deserve it? These figures are shocking, but something that dieticians and journalists are increasingly highlighting for unwary consumers.

It is not just coffee shops that are guilty of piling on the calories at Christmas. Sandwich chains such as Pret A Manger are guilty of the same practices. Pay attention to the nutritional information on the packaging, and you'll notice that their seasonal treat offering of am irresistible Christmas brie and cranberry sandwich contains 33g of fat, and 567 calories. Other sandwich chain Christmas sandwiches are not much better. Considering a double cheeseburger is only 28g of fat in comparison, and 440 calories starts to put that seasonal treat into perspective.

Christmas Dinner

If you manage to avoid all the food retailers' temptations, which is relatively easy, there is the Christmas Party to consider. Again, these can be a mine-field. Weight watching experts suggest you stick to the low calories of coke and vodka as a least worst option, and champagne (one glass) is lower in calories than most white wines. Phew!

But one of the worst offenders of all when it comes to Christmas Calorie Nightmares is Christmas Dinner itself.

Did you know that the average Christmas Dinner contains a whopping 3500 calories , and 147g of fat? Apparently so. Here's the breakdown on a one portion basis:

Roast Parsnips –102 cals, 6g fat; Sausage stuffing 231 cal, 15g fat; Brussels Sprouts – 32 cals, 1 g fat; Chipolatas in Bacon – 197 cals, 16g fat; Bread Sauce – 42 cals, 1g fat; Turkey 149 calories, 4g fat; Roast Potatoes, 127 cals, 4g fat;

The good news is that carrots only contain 14 cal and 0g fat.

On to dessert:

Mince pies with cream – 368 cals, 25g fat; Trifle – 235 cals, 17.5g fat; Chocolate Log – 101cals, 3g fat; Christmas Cake – 249 cals, 8g fat; Christmas Pudding – 330 cals, 11.8g fat.

Finally, alcohol:

One can of lager – 180 cals; can of cider – 200 cals; dry white wine – 175 cals.

Most people consume around five drinks on Christmas Day, which total around 850 calories

Plan Ahead

These figures are shocking, and we seldom stop to think about the cumulative calorie intake. But a few simple tricks can help you keep the calories down for yourself, if not others. For desert, why not supply a beautiful fruit salad as an alternative? One spoonful of Christmas pudding and some fruit would be much healthier. Buy some lower calories soya cream or cream substitute for puddings, and use no calories jelly in your trifle. Stick to low calories spirits in a diet drink for your alcohol intake, and limit your wine intake over dinner.

Most of the elements of the meal described above can be cut back and alternatives found if you are absolutely determined to stay on track this Christmas. Don't deny yourself a treat, but do try the smaller plate, smaller glass trick. It really works!

And if all fails, and you simply cannot resist, then just go ahead and have one day of sheer indulgence. Goodness knows it is only one day in the year when you should not have to be worrying about things, but enjoying good company and sharing with family. Let your hair down, have lots of fun and a very Merry Christmas, and simply return to your healthy eating plans on Boxing Day. Good luck!



Olivia Lennox




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