Loving party season but nervous about piling on the pounds? Discover our top tips for noshing healthily whilst staying in the party spirit...
Pick protein Key to not overindulging at your next Christmas party? Don’t arrive hungry. After a couple of drinks when the hunger pains really kick in, good judgement goes out the door fast and any passing platter is at your mercy. The solution? Try nuuting an hour before your party. Mix one sachet with 300ml water, one teaspoon of almond butter, half a frozen banana, and a teaspoon of hemp seeds. Its thick consistency makes it not only delicious, but satisfying and filling. Powered by premium plant protein, around 200 calories per serving and low in carbohydrates, nuut also helps keep blood sugar and energy levels stable and provides amino acids that regulate the body’s systems providing energy, strength and satiety. It’s the perfect pre-party game plan.
Eat lean & deliciously Key to eating well but healthily is to keep your party nibbles as clean, lean and fresh as possible. Don't waste calories on fattening dips, potato chips, creamy sauces, bread, pastry, French fries, or pigs in blankets. Spend your calories instead on the good stuff like scallops wrapped in bacon, fresh seafood and delicious cuts of meat.
Beef carpaccio is a nuut staffer fave and a cinch-to-make. Simply marinate or coat in spices, sear in a hot skillet, cool, and freeze for a couple of hours. While the beef is still frozen, slice super thin, and pound with a mallet until paper thin, then simply plate and serve with capers, onions, olive oil, lemon juice, some shaved parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley. To prepare, all you need are fresh, top-quality ingredients and a very sharp knife. Splurge a little and get the best beef tenderloin you can afford, ideally from a local farmer.
Fresh oysters and sashimi are also a delicious choice. Low in calories and loaded with nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, oysters provide over 100% of the RDI for vitamin B12, zinc, and copper, and over 75% of your daily needs for selenium and vitamin D. When you buy oysters, make sure that they are tightly closed and heavy in the hand. Ideally, they should be straight out of the sea when you eat them. Give them a rinse in cold water before you start preparing them.
To open, you’ll need an oyster knife which is short, thick and quite blunt. Hold the oyster curved-side down on a chopping board with a folded kitchen cloth between the shell and your hand – this is to help you get a good grip and protect your hand. Look for the hinge between the top shell and the bottom shell and poke the knife tip into the crack. You need to push quite hard and work it in there but eventually you should be able to prise the top shell off. When you get the oyster open, throw away the top shell. If there is any seawater in the bottom shell with the oyster, try and keep it in there. Serve oysters raw with lemon, tabasco or a simple vinaigrette.
Raw fish makes for perfect party food. It’s also very high in protein content that provides energy and fills you up. The most common fish used for sashimi are tuna, salmon and kingfish, although you can also use squid, scallops, whiting, snapper, bream, garfish and flounder.
Salmon sashimi, in particular, is not only delicious but helps you lose weight! Eating protein-rich salmon increases metabolic rate, whilst its omega-3 fatty acids help decrease stomach fat. It also helps regulate appetite-controlling hormones and can make you feel full.
If you’re making your sashimi from smaller fish or seafood, it’s best to use them as soon as you get them. However, some of the larger fish, such as snapper or flounder will taste better if they’re left overnight so that their muscles can relax. In order to make sashimi preparation easier, buy your fish already scaled and trimmed. Your fishmonger will usually be happy to do this for you. It is also possible to use frozen fish to make sashimi which means you can keep it in your freezer until you need it, plus you’ll be able to buy fish in season that you may not be able to get throughout the year.
Remember to always keep your knives as sharp as possible, and always keep your hands and equipment clean. Japanese chefs use different slicing techniques when making sashimi, the most common of which are hira-zukuri, translated to ‘the rectangular slice’, usu-zukuri which means ‘thin slice’, and kaku-zukuri which is square slice. Eat accompanied with Japanese shoyu soy sauce, shredded daikon radish, pickled ginger and, of course, some wasabi.
Love this clean, natural way of eating? Check out our Paleo Meal Plan, change how you approach food, and transform your body for good.
Choose clean drinks Skip the cocktails and avoid hidden sugars. Stick to white spirits like gin and vodka with soda and fresh lime instead. It’s not only low in calories, but super refreshing too. Even better, serve in tall, thin glasses rather than short squat ones. Research shows people pour less liquid into tall glasses than into their vertically challenged counterparts. With a taller glass, you’re likely to down less in one sitting.
Snack healthily Snacking during the day helps keep blood sugar levels steady and energy up. Skip the processed and packaged snack foods as these have a lot of sugar, salt, and additives. Instead, plan snacks ahead of time and choose fresh or dried fruit, cheese, cut-up raw vegetables, nuts or nut butter, hard-boiled eggs, whole grain crackers, and hummus.
Gulp H2O Drinking water helps make you feel full, which mean you avoid false hunger cues, and consume fewer calories. Water is very important for our metabolism, which is vital for weight loss. Of the weight gain that we put on throughout the holiday season, must of it tends to be bloat. If we stay hydrated, we can easily flush some of the extra sodium and bloat from our body. Studies also show that drinking 500 millilitres of water increases your metabolic rate by 30%.
Move it and lose it When holiday activities ramp up and we’re gearing up for some out of office time, workouts are one of the first things to slip. But even if you don’t have time for an hour-long spin class or yoga session, put in what you can. Exercise has a number of mental and physical benefits, and the science suggests it can counter some of the metabolic effects of overeating, even if it doesn’t wash out all those extra calories you’re consuming. Resist the all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to workouts and do what you can when you can — even if that’s just a quick routine in your living room. It may be especially helpful to enlist a friend. One study found that doing so led to increased activity, particularly if the workout partner provided encouragement and support. So grab a friend and go for a quick walk or make a weekly date to attend a group class. If you can’t meet up in person, have a virtual check in to encourage each other to keep moving.