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4 Tips For Having Your Cake & Still Feeling Great

Keeping on top of your diet and exercise regime can be challenging at the best of times, but when fun nights out, long loungy lunches and the Bailey’s coffees come calling, the anxiety can creep in. Will you be able to enjoy the holidays without piling on the pounds?

We chat to nutritionist Erika Doolan who gives her top tips on keeping on top of your diet while still enjoying the festive spirit.

Nutritionist Erika Doolan of Nutrition Ireland believes that with a bit of forward thinking, some planning, and a little self-control, you can have an amazing, fun-filled Christmas, and still feel on top of the world at the end of it. Here’s how…

1. Take a Look at Your Body’s General Health

This is the first step. If you’re feeling low on energy, sluggish and down, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll comfort yourself with unhealthy food. So getting yourself feeling as good as possible is of essence. Get lots of sleep, drink loads of water, and ensure you have as much of a balanced diet as possible in the run-up to Christmas.

2. Mind Your Immune System

If you’ve been prone to getting colds and flus recently, pumping up your immune system is key. To boost your immune system, Erika suggests a good probiotic and Vitamin D, in addition to eating plenty of foods rich in vitamin C and zinc (which means lots of fruit and veg). If you have an inkling that there’s a cold or flu on the way, reach for some herbal remedies such as Cat’s Claw and Echinacea, which can help ward them off. Stress is another enemy of the immune system, so trying to keep stress levels to a minimum and expending any negative energy on exercise will keep you feeling calm and in control.

3. Watch Your Drinking

Alcohol can be one of the biggest causes of weight gain over the festive season - not just from a calorific perspective, but from the food choices we make the following day, and the day after that if it was a particularly big night. Not only that, but alcohol can knock you off track, which is the greatest enemy. Keeping an eye on your triggers, and having healthy alternatives in your cupboard for the day after should keep you on track.

While you’re out, Erika suggests choosing a drink that’s going to cause the least damage to the waistline. “ For wine drinkers, mix white wine with soda water and/or lime cordial. If you can’t bear to dilute it, opt for a dry white or red wine, as these contain fewer calories than sweeter wines. Half a bottle of red or dry white wine contains around 250 calories.”

With regards to beer, lager, and cider, which are generally pretty high in calories, there’s little you can do to limit the damage, apart from choosing the low-cal choice, or by drinking fewer. “Also, avoid cocktails made with cream or syrupy juices, as they’re packed with calories,” suggests Ericka.

Despite the calories, alcohol, as anyone who enjoys a drink to two knows, is very bloating. To keep the boat at bay, drink as much water as possible before, during and after your night out. Some suggest a sachet of Dioralyte before you go to bed to rehydrate. Another option is to take a few drops of milk thistle in water to help support the liver and the metabolism of the alcohol.

4. Relax and Enjoy!

Let’s be real, though - it’s Christmas, you want to have fun. The bottom line? Enjoy yourself, but don’t let it all go. Enjoy the things you thoroughly enjoy, then skip the things you could take or leave. If in doubt, ask the question, ‘Is this worth getting fat over?’. If the answer is yes, go for it with a happy heart. If the answer is no, pass for something that’s going to make you smile.

Erika Doolan in a nutritional therapist, running her own business, Nutrition Ireland

About the Author

Jo Lavelle is a freelance editor and journalist with 12 years experience in the magazine, newspaper and radio industry. During her magazine career, she was style and beauty editor, before going to be editor of a magazine group. She was also a news writer and reporter for both newspapers and radio, in addition to feature writing for the press. She’s mum to 18 month old Elise, and has another on the way!

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