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  • Writer's pictureJohn Carlow

"We might not have enough sprouts!"

If your family is anything like mine you may be about to experience a special dread that doesn't manifest at any other time of year. Planning for the festive season.

Here are some of my top tips to avoid ending Christmas feeling more stuffed than the turkey.

Limit Your Excesses

You'll probably be off work for less than two weeks. During that time you could eat and drink without restraint and torpedo your progress from the months before, starting the new year feeling guilty and probably, hungover, or; you can let yourself go a bit on Christmas Day and New Years Eve and just try to eat normally the rest of the time. If you play your cards right you might manage to keep your belt on the same hole by the time you have to go back to the grind, especially if you follow my next tip...

Don't Overstock

Mindfullly crafted shopping lists and meal planning are your friends here. Basing shopping lists on concrete meal plans for the festive season will help you to avoid impulse buying when you're stalking the supermarket aisles. Work out what you'll actually need, and then stick to it so that you aren't jamming the fridge with things you'll feel compelled to eat before they spoil. Also, never set foot in a supermarket when you're hungry, or worse: tipsy!

Start by planning Christmas Dinner itself. If there are only going to be 5 people at your dinner table, buy a crown of turkey instead of a whole bird, for example, or maybe opt for a nice corn fed chicken or a duck. They are smaller, cheaper and there'll be less leftover meat haunting your fridge. (I still have turkey in my Freezer from last year so this year: turkey crown.) How many sprouts does each person actually need to remind them that no-one really likes sprouts? (I can happily go all year without a sprout!) Check the back of your fridge to see if the goose fat and cranberry sauce are still there from last year, or see if there are any frozen yorkshire puddings in the bottom of your freezer. Check the use-by dates, they might still be good a whole year later!

Avoid Grazing

If you don't want to pile on the pounds at Christmas, don't fill your living room with bowls of sweets and snacks. If they're there, you'll eat them, if you don't buy them, you won't. Simples. At least, don't buy several tubs of chocolates in a fit of madness in Sainsbury, two days before Christmas. You'll only regret it later. Buy one. Not one of each. Just one. You don't need Roses, Quality Street and Celebrations. Pick your favourite and just buy one. No, bowls of salted nuts are not really a healthier option. Nuts are notoriously calorie dense and excess salt will raise your blood pressure.

Go for a walk

Sitting at home with a tonne of sweets, chocolates and leftovers to graze on is bound to lead to some overindulgence. Take the family out for a Christmas ramble in the park. The dog will thank you, and a bit of fresh air will do you all some good. A little bit of light exercise will help to counter some of the excess calorie consumption.

All that being said, don't forget to rest, relax and enjoy yourself. You deserve it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Also, if you need some help to work off that turkey in January, you know who to call, right?

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