Easy and delicious ways to get back in shape after the Christmas holidays

By ΕLENA TROULLIDOU, Clinical Dietitian-Nutritionist (BSc (Hons.), MSc (Hons.)), specialised in Morbid Obesity – Owner of myDietSpot Health Centre , 3 Aphrodite str., Aglantzia, 22-256752, [email protected] , www.mydietspot.com

If you have stepped on the scale after the Christmas holidays you might have seen the weight number slightly higher. But don’t get frustrated this does not necessarily mean that you have gained fat. It’s important to understand that through the holiday season we tend to consume many different types of foods that need more time to be digested. In addition, many of the dishes we have tried were cooked with extra salt which led to water retention. This, combined with the increased consumption of alcohol and desserts makes us feel a little more stuffed! So there’s no need to panic!

What can we do?

Statistically, many people deal with refluxes, stomach pains in people nearly double in the days after the holiday season, due to overindulgence in meat, desserts and alcohol. A “soft diet” (with emphasis on rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, fruits and veggies) would be an excellent choice to ease the stomach pains and take us back to our routine schedule.

The average adult tends to gain around 2-3 kgs over the Christmas holiday season. January is an excellent time to make changes to your lifestyle (you know, with resolutions and all!) by following a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis.

Advice on successfully losing weight after the holidays:

1. Never skip breakfast! People who tend to skip breakfast, absorb 30% more calories from noon onwards. Besides, it’s common knowledge that skipping breakfast may lead to obesity, since the nutrients that one can absorb from a healthy morning dish, cannot be replaced with meals taken over the course of the day.

2. Always, always, always combine your meal with a salad or other vegetables. Mushrooms offer an ideal addition for a tasty and nutrient-rich meal of low calories, since they are rich in B-vitamins and contain aminoacids. Moreover, being high in water, they will add just 32 calories / 100g to your meal.

3. Try to limit consumption of sodas and food that is high in sodium (salt) and sugar. For dessert prefer to have fruits, yogurt with fruits or yogurt with some honey. Some dark chocolate or a home baked cake can also make for a tasty treat.

4. Sweet drinks like hot chocolate tend to add empty calories to our daily diet. They won’t make you feel full like solid foods do, so you’ll still feel hungry after having a cup of hot chocolate.

5. Replace foods in your daily diet with the respective wholewheat or rye products. You can do this with bread, toasts, cereal, crackers or pasta. This way you will achieve a higher consumption of fiber, your stomach will feel fuller for longer and you will ensure a better digestion.

6. Drink at least 1-1½ litre of water per day. Water will make you feel full for a short time and, more importantly, being well hydrated ensures a better metabolism.

7. Avoid eating hastily and never, ever eat while in a standing position. This way you will have better control of how much you eat.

8. Chew slowly and chew well!

9. Don’t forget to exercise! A good idea is to follow an aerobic exercise routine for at least 40 minutes for 3-4 times per week.

10. It’s a good idea to learn how to read the nutritional label. You can calculate approximately how many calories you take with each meal and understand how much fat, sugar and sodium is contained in each food product.

Evening meal choices Some examples of healthy evening meals:

1. Seasonal salad with raw mushrooms (which will give you the sensation of feeling full), with low fat cheese and some oil (1-2 tbsp) along with 1-2 sliced of toasted bread or 1 slice of whole wheat bread.

2. Rice with sautéed mushrooms and salad.

3. Portobello mushrooms stuffed with quinoa, low fat feta cheese and tomato.

Stay positive and stay patient! You can’t improve your weight overnight, so have fun with the process and don’t feel any pressure!

A healthy diet to lose the extra weight gained over the holiday season shouldn’t make you feel deprived of anything.All you are doing is improving your dietary habits so you can successfully reach your desired weight target!