My top 10 tips plus a whole bunch of easy-to-adopt food swaps to ensure you ‘party on’ this festive season, stay focused and energised, body swerve bugs and viruses and don’t cart excess weight into 2018!

(calories vary dependent on where you shop and/or where you party so let’s go with the averages)

Graze Before You Go

Miso soup on white wooden table.

It can all go horribly-wrong when you arrive hungry at an event! The first 20 minutes can see you having guzzled your way through two alcoholic drinks and copious canapés and there are still plenty more of both to come!

Swap This - a ‘grabbed’ ham and cheese sandwich pack = 400 calories

For This -  a small bowl or large mug of miso soup = 135 calories

Saving: 265 calories

More top ‘graze before you go’ choices: a couple of oatcakes or rye crackers with no sugar almond butter, a small pot of hummus with raw vegetable sticks, a couple of no sugar protein balls, a small carton of natural yoghurt with chopped fruit and fresh nuts

Know Your Nibbles

hummus bites with cucumber and tomatoes

Those oh-so-moreish pastry-rich and deep fried morsels (particularly alongside alcohol!) seriously hike up your blood sugar levels, it’s easy to lose count of how many you have had and they won’t do your waistline any favours!

Swap This - mini chicken kievs x 6 = 360 calories

For This - raw vegetable sticks with dips x 6 ‘visits’ = 150 calories

Saving: 210 calories

More top ‘know your nibbles’ choices: smoked salmon rolls, stuffed mushrooms, mini meat, vegetable or fruit kebabs, sushi and sashimi

Befriend the Buffet

grilled salmon

Steer clear of starch and sugar and focus on vegetables/salad and protein and you won’t go too far wrong! And don’t pile the plate high or go back for seconds…

Swap This - portion of lasagne with side salad = 450 calories

For This - hot or cold baked salmon with mixed salad or vegetables = 200 calories

Saving: 250 calories

More top ‘befriend the buffet’ choices: protein and vegetable-rich soups with lots of salad on the side, spicy meat and/or vegetable curries without the rice or naans, meat and/or vegetable casseroles with loads of greens, baked fish or shellfish, lentil and bean salads, hard cheeses and fruit without the biscuits

Play Clever with Booze

alcohol web.jpeg

A great tactic is to decide well before ‘party time’ commences on a drink that you are going to stick to and unless the choice is somewhat limited, stick to it like glue - that’s the only way you are going to know roughly how many calories you are consuming over the period. And, make an obsessive point of having a large glass of water to match every alcoholic drink - both your liver and your waistline will thank you!.

Swap This - 1 x french martini = 160 calories

For This - 1 x vodka, soda, ice and a dash of fresh lime juice = 90 calories

Saving: 70 calories

Swap This - 1 x champagne cocktail = 180 calories

For This - 1 x extra dry champagne or prosecco = 80 calories

Saving: 100 calories

More top ‘play clever with booze’ choices: dry white wine, rich ruby red wine, spirits ‘on the rocks’, spritzers (more sparkling water than wine) and if it’s got to be cocktails - go for the ones which are bitter rather than those with fruit syrups

Have a Post-Party Snack Routine

smoked salmon on rye web.jpeg

Sometimes, when you have been out partying you just want to flop into bed but it’s not unusual for a ‘snack attack’ to invade and this is when we can be at our very weakest when it comes to our resolve to keep the calorie count down! A brilliant tactic is to be a bit organised and have a pre-prepared protein-rich snack in the fridge so you simply open the door, grab it, down it and manage the craving!

Swap This - a couple of slices of cheese on toast = 400 calories

For This - a couple of oatcakes or rye crackers with sugar-free nut butter = 140 calories

Saving: 260 calories

More top ‘post-party snack’ choices: one slice of rye toast with mashed avocado and sliced smoked salmon, 2 slices of Parma ham wrapped around chunks of hard goats cheese, small bowl of no-sugar muesli topped with natural yoghurt and runny honey, sliced cold, pre-boiled eggs and cold ham on 2 rye crackers

Get Your ‘Morning After’ Breakfast Sorted

fresh fruit with crunchy yoghurt web.jpeg

If it was a late one and alcohol was involved, there is a reasonable chance you will wake up and feel ‘driven’ to head for some sort of sugar hit OR the thought of any kind of food doesn’t sit too well with you and all you can manage is a cup of tea or coffee (or worse still a can of fizzy stuff) - bad decision on all fronts! You have to do everything you can to get your blood sugar under control if you want to avoid the mid morning energy slump and the craving for something sugary or starchy and that means a liver-friendly cuppa and a protein-rich meal.

Swap This - a latte and a pastry = 450 calories

For This - a mug of hot lemon and ginger and a small plate of scrambled eggs = 220 calories

Saving: 230 calories

More top ‘morning after breakfast’ choices: porridge with a drizzle of runny honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg plus fresh fruit juice, half an avocado stuffed with natural cottage cheese, lots of freshly ground black pepper plus a mug of green tea, natural yoghurt with fresh fruit and nuts and seeds plus a green juice, toasted sour dough bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with ham and sliced cucumber plus a glass of fresh tomato juice

Really Focus on ‘Non-Party’ Days

Light Chicken cropped.jpg

Give your liver and digestion a break when you know you have a day or better still, a few days devoid of ‘invitations to party’ by focusing on foods and drinks that calm your system down but at the same time keep you energised. Soups, juices, calming teas, light suppers and regular exercise are your best friends. Conversely, a day or two of doing what absolutely has to be done, grabbing a starchy lunch, having the occasional sugary or salty snack before slobbing on the couch for the evening with a ready-meal or carry out is not! 

Swap This - bowl of sugary cereal with milk for breakfast, cup of tea/coffee with a couple of choccie bikkies mid morning, a takeaway sandwich and a packet of crisps for lunch, a fruit yoghurt and a diet coke mid afternoon and a takeaway pizza for dinner plus a couple of glasses of wine = 3500 calories

For This - natural yoghurt, fruit and nuts for breakfast, veg sticks and natural cottage cheese mid morning, bowl of light chicken broth for lunch, couple of oatcakes with sugar-free nut butter mid afternoon and baked fish with steamed vegetables for dinner plus plenty of water, a refreshing fruit and vegetable juice and two cups of green tea throughout the day = 1800 calories

Saving: 1700 calories

Don’t Fret About Christmas Day Feasting!

Turkey Breast With Sage - Honey Rub

Come on, it’s only one day and it’s a celebration with family and friends! Whoever has agreed to host the party has spent time and money on making it a Christmas Day to remember so if you are a guest, do everything you can to ‘get into the spirit’. However…. there are lots of tips and tricks you can factor into the day to reduce the calorie load and slip into Boxing Day not feeling too guilty!

Feast On - the protein (meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, lentils, beans, nuts), the fresh, baked, steamed and stir fried vegetables, the fresh fruits, the Christmas pudding, the cheese board

Avoid or Have a Very Small Helping - the deep-fried and pastry-rich canapes, the gravy, the bread sauce, the roast potatoes, the creamy puddings, the brandy butter/cream, the biscuits with the cheese, the after-dinner chocolates

Saving: could be anywhere between 1000 and 3000 calories!

More top ‘Christmas Day feasting’ tactics: eat light but don’t starve before the feast, stick to your alcohol of choice during the feast and have lots of water and factor in some exercise before or after the feast

Feed Your Brain

eggs web.jpeg

Few of us have the luxury of simply swinging from one party to the next and this is a particularly busy time of the year when the ‘to do’ list seems to get ever longer and everything is a priority! The brain is in charge but it needs nourishment if we are somehow or other to stay upbeat, energised and able to look good and feel good when party time comes around rather than feeling drained, simply going through the motions and counting the hours until bedtime!

Swap This - a diet coke and a packet of crisps = 230 calories

For This - an avocado, banana, blueberry, flaxseed, vanilla protein powder and iced water smoothie = 350 calories

Saving: the smoothie has loads more calories but these are the kind of calories that the brain loves and can work with for hours because it is rich in fibre, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and protective plant chemicals whereas the the sugary/starchy alternative is simply a temporary energy sticking plaster devoid of much in the way of nourishment!

More top ‘feed your brain’ choices: oily fish, fresh nuts, beets, broccoli, celery, coconut oil, eggs, dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy vegetables, herbs and spices

Keep Your Immune System Mega-Strong

Parcel Baked Fish web.jpeg

Statistics indicate that rather many of us fall prey to the bugs and viruses that tend to dominate around this time of year for two reasons. One, there is a lot of celebratory kissing and hugging over the festive period allowing bugs and viruses to proliferate! And two, we have likely been going hammer and tongs to keep all the plates spinning and possibly burning the candle at both ends making us a little less able to fight off predators! But, who wants to wear a face mask from dawn to dusk and say no to every invitation? If ever there was a time of the year to do everything we can to make a determined effort to keep our immune system as strong as possible, it is right now!

Swap This - Beer-battered fish with oven chips and mushy peas

For This - Parcel-Baked Fish: Lay out one piece of aluminium foil about 12-14” square and place some spinach leaves on it. Lay a fish fillet on the bed of spinach followed by some finely-sliced onion rings, a few asparagus spears, a sliced tomato, one finely-diced red chilli and a scattering of fresh herbs. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over and season lightly with salt and pepper. Fold the foil to create a parcel, leaving plenty of space around the contents, place on a baking sheet and bake for around 25 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the juices run clear. When cooked, lift the contents of the parcel onto a warmed plate and spoon over the delicious juices.

Saving: what is most important is to ensure that your diet is rich in zinc and magnesium and the vitamins A, C and D, involves the freshest of foods and is light on ready-meals and super-light on fast foods and junk! 

More top ‘immune boosting’ tactics: snack on pumpkin seeds, include berries and citrus fruits in your diet, sling plenty of garlic and turmeric into your curries and casseroles, have a mug of hot lemon and ginger in the morning, focus on green, orange and yellow vegetables and consider an immune boosting daily supplement. Biocare’s Immune Intensive is an excellent product but there are plenty others on the shelves which offer good levels of the important immune-boosting nutrients.