Christmas is a renowned for good times, fun, family and friends – and unfortunately weight gain too due to all the food and drink regularly on offer.
It is common for most people to overeat at Christmas and then on Jan 1 get on the weight loss bandwagon to try and shed the weight they have gained over the festive period.
But what about when you are already on the weight loss campaign and have already done a fantastic job over the previous weeks and months of losing weight and then over indulge at Christmas which sets you back another 2-3 kilos – or worse? Not such a great Christmas present!
So this Christmas you have come so far with your health and weight loss journey that The Healthy Mummy wanted to give you as much ammunition and support as possible for you to keep that weight off over Christmas and not let you undo all the good work and results you have already achieved.
So as much as weight loss is a very tough goal to set over Christmas – the primary goal that we are setting for you all is to maintain your weight so that you can still have some indulgences but with some rules in place so that things don’t spiral out of control and you don’t start piling on those kilos that you have already kissed goodbye.
The Christmas Survival Plan will cover the following;
- Diet – what to eat
- Recipes – low fat recipes over Christmas to keep your family and your waist line happy
- Coping tips at parties
- Presents you need to be bought!
So let’s get into it……………
Weight loss survival
We are surrounded by food and drink over the Christmas period so if we are going to see off any weight gain we need to plan and be prepared for all of those moments of temptation. Firstly – it is worth noting that not all foods at Christmas are unhealthy and there is usually a healthy and low fat alternative to every Christmas traditional food.
Secondly it is worth being realistic and accepting that it will be hard for you to lose weight over Christmas but with some planning and preparation maintaining your weight and your current weight loss will be easy to do.
Healthy snacking is common over Christmas and maintaining your weight will be all about making good snacking choices – here are some good ones over bad ones plus some other food tips!
- Choose unsalted nuts NOT dry roasted nuts
- Choose a Skinny Cow ice cream NOT a Magnum or full fat ice cream
- Choose bakes pretzels NOT fried chips
- Choose dark chocolate with mint or orange NOT full cream and full fat milk chocolate
- Choose some of our Chocolate Almond or Mints NOT a mars bar or snickers
- Choose bananas or strawberries dipped in dark chocolate NOT Roses or Quality Street
- Choose a low fat cheese NOT full fat Brie (Ricotta is the best)
- Choose a platter of fruit NOT a bag of lollies
- Choose a spritzer with 50% light white wine and 50% sparkling water NOT a straight white wine or champagne
- Choose a sorbet with raspberry coulis NOT full fat ice cream with chocolate sauce
- Choose sticks of raw carrots, cucumber and cauliflower with hummous NOT full fat cheesy sauce
- Choose slivers of fresh salmon on rice cakes and philidelphia light NOT slabs of salmon on normal crackers and sour cream.
- Choose wholegrain and fibre carbohyrdates NOT white processed carbohydrates
- Choose to add veggies to as many meals as possible NOT chips and breads
- Choose a digestion soothing tea like peppermint tea or lemongrass tea NOT a full fat coffee
- Choose a smaller plate to serve your meals on NOT a stylish huge dinner plat (that you will fill and will eat!)
- Choose to eat slowly NOT wolf down the food – it takes 20 minutes for the brain to signal to the tummy that it is full
- Choose to have a salad as your starter NOT a high fat starter
- Choose to have a vinaigrette dressing NOT mayonnaise – a tablespoon of mayo has more fat than a Mars bar!!
Get to know your favourite weight loss foods
Living a healthy lifestyle or monitoring your weight does not mean all enjoyable foods are out and it is very possible to make all the treats that are a normal part of Christmas festivities very healthy and not have you gain weight.
Here are some that come to mind:
1. That Christmas turkey is not off the menu in most cases; lean white meat is high in protein and very lean.
2. All the vegetables that go with the turkey can be delicious if you buy good quality and cook them well (i.e. don’t over cook them or drench them in oil if roasting). Why not set your mind on organic vegetables only for the holiday season? That may seem an indulgence cost wise, but better to indulge in that than junk foods.
3. Fresh salmon is great for Christmas and provided you eat it in moderation it won’t hinder your weight loss. And if you want to try something different go for trout which has less calories and fat than salmon but the same goodness
4. Experiment with your own salad dressings, and try different olive oils. Salads with a difference can be healthy but still a treat.
5. Aim to have plenty of fruits around the house during the Christmas period. Want to indulge as it’s Christmas? What about your favourite fruits dipped into a bit of melted dark chocolate?
6. There are a variety of nuts which make healthy and tasty snacks. Keep a stash of unsalted nuts in the cupboard – but remember they are high in fat so limit your consumption to a few at a time.
8 Of Our Favourite Healthy Christmas Recipes
We’ve put together a selection of our favourite healthy Christmas recipes from the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge that you can prepare when you’re asked to “bring a plate” or just to get everyone in a festive mood.
There’s no need to worry about missing out on delicious food this Christmas as these healthy, tasty recipes will help you reach your weight loss goals.
1. Frozen Watermelon Trees
This delicious sweet recipe is not only good for you but also makes for a perfect table decoration.
Ingredients (Makes 1 serve)
- 300 grams of watermelon
- 1 tablespoon reduced-fat Greek natural yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon blueberries, fresh or frozen
- Slice the watermelon into triangles. Keep the skin on the watermelon and create a 1-2 cm wide ‘trunk’ for your tree in the centre of the watermelon skin by removing the skin from either side of the ‘trunk’ in the centre.
- Dip the top half of each triangle into yoghurt (to look like snow). Place on a tray lined with baking paper.
- Cut the blueberries in half. Press blueberry halves into the yoghurt (cut side down) to look like decorations.
- Place in the freezer until the yoghurt has set and then serve.
109 cal/458kj per serve
2. Strawberry Santas
A great recipe to make when asked to bring a plate to an end of school or kindy break up party.
Ingredients (Makes 2 serves)
- 1 punnet strawberries
- 1/2 cup light cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Wash and pat dry the strawberries. Cut the top off the strawberries removing the green leaves, so that the strawberries can stand up flat on a plate.
- Cut the bottom 1/3 of the strawberries off and reserve for Santa’s hat.
- Combine the cream cheese and zest. Fill a piping bag with the cream cheese and carefully pipe a triangle shape onto the wide part of the strawberry to form Santa’s beard. If you don’t have a piping bag use a zip lock bag and fill with cream cheese mix then snip off a small corner to use instead.
- Add a small dollop of the cream cheese at the small top of the strawberries and place the small pieces you cut off on top to represent Santa’s hat.
- Place in the fridge and chill for 10 minutes before serving.
- This recipe makes 2 serves so divide equally to serve.
152 cals/630kj per serve
3. Gingerbread Stars
These are ideal to make in bulk and package up in cellophane bags to give to family and friends as healthy homemade Christmas gifts. Get the kids to help you with the preparations to show them that Christmas gifts don’t always have to be bought at a shop.
Ingredients (Makes 5 serves)
- 1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1 level teaspoon bi-carbonate soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat milk of choice
- 30 grams of butter
- Preheat oven to 160C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Combine plain flour, rice flour and bi-carbonate soda in a bowl. Add spices and orange zest.
- Place a saucepan over a low heat and add orange juice, honey, milk and butter. Stir until butter has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- Combine liquid mixture with dry mixture and combine well (dough will be quite firm). Once it comes together, turn dough out onto a clean surface dusted with some flour. Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 balls. Wrap each ball in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and roll out until 1cm thick. Using a small star-shaped cookie cutter, cut biscuits from dough and transfer to prepared baking tray (about 5cm apart). Combine leftover dough, roll out and cut out more biscuits until all dough is used. You should have enough dough for approximately 10 biscuits.
- Bake for 6-7 minutes until golden. Biscuits will still be soft, but will harden as they cool. Cool on tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
- 2 biscuits makes 1 serve.
194cal/970kj per serve
4. Cucumber S’Mores with Turkey, Parmesan & Cranberry
Such an easy to put together healthy, savoury canapé recipe that will impress your guests.
Ingredients (Makes 1 serve)
- 1/2 Lebanese cucumber
- 2 slices lean smoked turkey
- 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce, store-bought
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
- Cut cucumber into 1cm rounds and arrange on a serving plate.
- Slice turkey into small pieces and top each cucumber round with a small portion.
- Top turkey with a small amount of cranberry sauce and grated Parmesan to serve.
202cal/847kj per serve
5. Blueberry Breeze Cocktail
Christmas parties are often a time when you might celebrate with an alcoholic drink or two but be mindful of the extra calories alcohol can add to your daily totals. This cocktail recipe is a healthier option and great to make to share with friends.
Ingredients (Makes 1 serve)
- 2 tablespoons blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup soda water
- 150 mls of sparkling wine
- Muddle the blueberries by squashing with the back of a fork.
- Combine with soda water and lemon juice in a serving glass.
- Top with sparkling wine to serve.
86cal/360kj per serve
6. Christmas Tree Apple & Pear Platter
A great recipe to make as the centrepiece for a healthy Christmas lunch table.
Ingredients (Makes 4 serves)
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 slice watermelon
- 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
- 2 teaspoons shredded coconut
- Core the apple and pear and cut each into 8 slices. Slightly heat the peanut butter in the microwave so it is runny.
- Use a star cookie cutter to cut a star shape from the slice of watermelon. Cut a rectangle shape from the watermelon slice to use as a trunk. Set aside.
- Arrange apple and pear slices on a serving plate, into the shape of a Christmas tree, with the skin on the fruit forming the bottom side of each of the leaves.
- Drizzle heated peanut butter across the tree to look like tinsel and arrange dried cranberries to look like decorations. Sprinkle over coconut to serve with the watermelon star at the top and trunk at the bottom of the tree.
123cal/492kj per serve
7. Chocolate Crackle Breakfast Pudding
Whether you’re hosting a special Christmas breakfast or just want to treat the family with a festive start to the day, this healthy recipe will be sure to impress.
Ingredients (Makes 1 serve)
- 1/2 mashed banana
- 1 teaspoon cacao/cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/3 cup puffed rice
- 1 tablespoon reduced-fat Greek natural yoghurt
- Combine mashed banana, cacao/cocoa powder, honey and vanilla until smooth. Add raspberries (keep one raspberry per serve aside for garnishing) and puffed rice and combine everything together.
- To create a nice ‘pudding’ shape, line a small bowl or container with cling wrap (one per serve). Press mixture into the mould and chill in the fridge for several hours or until firm.
- Remove the pudding from the mould by pulling the cling wrap out of the container. Place pudding onto a serving plate and remove the cling wrap.
- To serve top with yoghurt and a raspberry as garnish.
203cal/851kj per serve
8. Healthy Fruit Trifle
For a real show-stopper on the table at Christmas, prepare this healthy fruit trifle to treat everyone.
Ingredients (Makes 8 serves)
- 1 tablespoon powdered gelatine
- 1 & 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup apple & blackcurrant juice, no added sugar
- 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
- 2 separated free-range eggs
- 1 cup reduced-fat milk of choice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups reduced-fat Greek natural yoghurt
- 1 punnet strawberries
- 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup fresh cherries
- 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
- Start by making the jelly. In a large jug sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup of the cold water and leave for a minute or two to soften. Boil remaining cup of water and add to gelatin mix, stir until gelatin is dissolved and liquid is clear. Stir in 3/4 cup of the apple and blackcurrant juice, reserving remainder of juice for later. Pour jelly mixture into a shallow dish and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, until firm.
- When jelly has set make the pancake rolls. Place the flour in a mixing bowl and stir in milk, egg yolks and vanilla until smooth.
- In a separate small mixing bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold small portions of the egg white through the pancake batter until well combined.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Scoop batter into pan using a 1/3 cup measure. Cook pancake until just golden on both sides, place on a piece of paper towel, roll tightly and set aside to cool. Repeat with remaining batter and sheets of paper towel to make approx 6 pancake rolls.
- To assemble trifle gently unroll pancakes to remove paper towels, pancakes will keep their rolled-up shape. Slice each roll into 4 or 5 rounds. Arrange around the base of a large bowl and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup of apple and blackcurrant juice.
- Cut jelly into cubes and spoon over the pancake rolls. Sprinkle with nuts.
- Top jelly with yoghurt. Quarter strawberries and arrange with blueberries and cherries on top of yoghurt. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
185cal/773kj per serve
Exercising over Christmas
With all the extra food and drink on offer over Christmas it is essential to build as much exercise into your daily routine as possible to ensure that the energy output out is higher than the energy in from the food and drink we are eating.
But as per the Healthy Mummy philosophy this does not have to mean daily gym sessions and with the summer weather being so great and most of us having family and friends around the summer and Christmas period lends itself well to doing an increased amount of exercise.
Exercise is the real friend to you during this excessive holiday period, so don’t be tempted to put off your regular exercise until after the holidays if you can help it. I know we all have less time at Christmas but remember even if you only do a percentage of your normal exercise some is better than none, so do less or shorter sessions rather than knocking them off altogether. You can also throw yourself whole heartedly into the dancing at any parties you attend and work off a few of those calories!
Here are our top ways to get exercise in over the Christmas holidays;
Take a walk!
Build walking into your routines. Walking part of the way to the local stores, or taking the dogs on longer walks, walking with the family – all these things can contribute to your weight control, and make you feel better. If you feel better, coupled with your mental strength, keeping your weight down over Christmas will not be as difficult as you might have thought.
Shop ’til You Drop
Turn a leisurely cruise around the mall into a power-walk and you reap the same fitness benefits you would out on a hiking trail. Hit stores at off hours to avoid crowds (or else treat that zigging and zagging you’re doing as extra aerobic output). And don’t forget to take the stairs and park in the far end of the lot. Those extra steps add up too. How about walking a lap around the parking lot before you go home? Extra points if you’re carrying heavy bags!
Create Family Holiday Fitness Traditions
Treasured rituals are an important part of the holiday season for most families. Add or adapt yours to include fitness! Consider:
- An all-ages Christmas part complete with games such as rounders, garden/beach cricket, musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, charades, egg and spoon race (eggs painted in Christmas colours of course!), three legged race or sports tournaments on Wii
- Walk, instead of driving, to view holiday lights and decorations
- A kids’ talent show during family get-togethers
- Cutting your own Christmas tree
- Musical statues to your family’s favourite tunes
Fit in Holiday Fitness, Cut Out Fat
An unpredictable, extra-busy schedule can easily derail your usual exercise routines. Try working out early in the morning, before you’re interrupted for the day. Have a backup plan, so that in case you miss your usual exercise routine, you take a bike ride or do an exercise video instead. If you have house guests, invite them to join you on your daily walk or trip to the gym.
The Healthy Mummy App has over 500 at home workouts, some of which only take 10 minutes! Try to squeeze as many as you can in to make sure you’re burning off any extra indulgences.
Socialising over Christmas
1. Don’t Feel Obligated
Being a gracious guest doesn’t mean eating hearty portions of everything that’s offered. Don’t feel the need to eat foods you’d normally avoid, or take seconds, just to please the hostess. Regardless of the occasion, you need to be the one who is in control of what and how much you eat. If you find refusing food awkward – or have a relentless relative who’s always begging you to “Eat! Eat!” – try the broken-record technique: Continue to simply say “No, thank you,” with a smile. It’s impossible for your hostess to argue with a gracious but firm “No,” and if you don’t make complicated excuses, you’re less likely to cave in to pressure.
2. Don’t Fast Before Big Events
To prepare your body for the big feast later in the day, you may be tempted to ‘save’ calories by skipping breakfast or other meals – which is not a good idea. While eating every few hours is always important, it’s essential before a holiday party or big dinner because it keeps your metabolism high, allowing your body to continue burning calories, instead of sending you into starvation mode, in which your body hangs on to them.
Eating something beforehand also prevents you from becoming so famished that you devour junk foods at the event. In fact, it might be smart to eat more than you normally would that day. So never go to a party starving, even something small, like a banana or a bowl of cereal, will take the edge off your appetite and allow you to make smarter food choices. And if you’re not sure whether healthy items will be available, suggest to bring a platter of veggies and low-fat dip
3. Don’t Overdo Alcohol
Do you find sipping a celebratory drink makes you lose your willpower? You’re not alone. Alcohol tends to lessen your inhibitions, and you may find that you have less control over what you eat. If you must indulge in a holiday cocktail, consider diluting your drink with extra ice, water or seltzer, and alternating each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water in order to keep control of your eating and prevent dehydration. Also, remember to count those liquid calories. A mixed drink, like a daiquiri or margarita, can have 500 calories per glass.
4. Don’t Forget to Start on a Positive Note
Take 30 minutes and go for a walk the morning of your holiday get together. By getting your exercise done early in the day, you are ensuring that you’ll actually do it. And the mood-boosting hormones that are released with exercise provide the added benefit of easing and family holiday stress and making you feel calm
5. Office survival
If you work in an office you know that the work place is just going to be full of junk food that ALWAYS seem to make their way into the workplace at Christmas – be prepared for this temptation by always having healthy snacks in your bag or desk so that you can join in the snacking, but in a healthy way.
6. Office parties
Then there are the dreaded parties! Don’t worry, you can party and still be good! When it comes to the buffet table, look out for the healthy options, the cooked meats, plain chicken and fish, the salads, fruits etc, I’m not saying that you can’t participate in some of the less healthy options but if you are already filled upon the healthier choices you’ll have a lot less room for the poorer food choices and won’t feel that you are missing out by not eating them
7. Prepare your appetite
When attending any function over the holidays it is always best if you try to eat well before you go; eat all your normal meals as you would on any day and then you won’t be tempted to eat everything in sight when you get there as you will be pleasantly full already; so many people starve themselves all day because they are saving themselves for the function, so that when they get there they are that hungry they are ready to devour anything, and everything, they see
Present ideas for you!
And finally here are a list of present ideas that I recommend you start dropping hints for so that you have all the ammunition possible to lose your baby weight and stay fit and healthy next year!
- A blender – Check out 9 of the best blenders for your kitchen needs
- Fitness Tracker Fitbit, Samsung, Garmin, Apple Watch (the list could go on and on. There are so many to choose from it can be quite confusing. Join The Healthy Mummy Community , the mums always share great reviews that are sure to help you decide which brand suits you best.
- Fit Flops – a thong that gives you a work out perfect for the summer months and from approx $50 – www.fitflop.com.au
- A good sports bra will save you a whole world of pain! If you want to work out you need to make sure you have all the right support. We share our recommendations for the best sports bra HERE.
- An exercise bike – you can get a good one from approx $200
- Dumb bells – you can get good 2kg ones from approx $20
- 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge Subscription! If you’re not already a member, taking part in the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge will give you access to the 5 star rated Healthy Mummy App. Anyone interested in improving thier health and fitness will LOVE this app, full of incredible features it is your meal planner, fitness trainer, motivational coach and tracker all in the palm of your hand.If you’re really serious about getting into shape next year then we’ve saved the best until last. Sign up for the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge and kick start the new year with a BANG!
Hopefully this survival guide and tips will help you manage to keep your diet and exercise program while you still manage to join in and enjoy all the fun of Christmas.
Have a great Christmas!