Scientists have discovered that the key to a Happy New Year is to eat less crap during the holidays. This is easier said than done, but here are a few helpful tips:
Why do we eat more at Christmas? Because food is tasty and eating it releases dopamine, a chemical that governs our brain’s reward and pleasure centres and makes us happy. The good news is that dopamine is also produced by exercise, so a nice long walk before lunch could also help get you into the Christmas Spirit. Food always tastes better when you have built up an appetite.
Recreational Eating and Drinking. It’s difficult when every social gathering seems to centre around recreational eating. However, If you want to try and avoid spending the first part of 2018 regretting over-indulgence and feeling guilty about not going to the gym then recognise when you are eating just because everybody else is and try to reign it in. If your entertainment centres around alcohol try and drink something less calorific and filling than just beer. Make sure you get lots of water down your neck too.
Christmas Treats. There are lots of things that we do specifically at Christmas. Often this is an attempt to get us into the holiday spirit and to try and recreate the huge dopamine burst that we used to have as children. This could be by indulging in the ridiculously unhealthy speciality coffees. It’s interesting just how many calories are in some high street coffee. Or it could just be that you think you need to eat all the chocolate that you have been given by the end of Christmas Day. Try saving some for later.
Watch What You Eat. Personally, I enjoy a gentle food coma on Christmas Afternoon, but I am keen not to go to the next stage of over eating. The Australian Academy of Science points out that there is only a finite amount of space in our stomach – around 1 litre, although it can hold up to 4 litres before a gag reflex kicks in, causing us to vomit.
Healthy Alternatives. The whole holiday doesn’t have to be about high calorie party snacks. Try these low fat dips, vegetables, crackers and thins. Also try doing some exercise.
LOW FAT FETA CHEESE DIP
350g low fat feta
230g low fat greek yogurt
350g low fat cream cheese
Hand mix until fluffy and then add salt, pepper and dill to season.
BEETROOT HUMMUS DIP
2 x cooked beetroots
1 can chickpeas
2 1/2 tbs tahini
1 tbs lemon juice
2 crushed garlic clove
salt and cumin to season
Blend the beetroot, chickpeas and tahini for 1 minute. Add lemon, garlic, salt, cumin and 1 tsp water and blend again until creamy (add more water if too thick) (cheat this one by blending pre-cooked beetroot and mixing in low fat hummus).
115g low fat greek yogurt
2 crushed garlic clove
Mash the avocados, add the yogurt, lime juice and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
CHEESY SALSA TACO DIP
230g low fat cream cheese
230g low fat Greek yogurt
Taco or fajita seasoning
Hand mix and season with taco or fajita seasoning.
Dress your dips with chopped cucumber, cherry tomato, avocado, olives, spring onions or lettuce.