Which dishes should I skip to avoid that sluggish post-holiday-meal feeling?
Heaping scoops of mashed potatoes and stuffing divert blood and digestive juices to the GI tract, giving you a swollen, stuffed feeling. Adding to the damage are heavily salted foods like gravy; they increase thirst, so you drink more, leaving you even more sluggish. It takes at least 24 hours for the body to clear this excess.
What to do: Scale back on portion size to reduce volume and sodium intake. Aim for slightly less than a serving size (see chart).
Wine or beer?
Wine’s fewer kilojoules give it a slight boost over beer: 500 kilojoules for a 150mL glass versus 650 kilojoules for a 355mL bottle. Beer’s bubbles and “big” volume fill up some drinkers more quickly – meaning combined with food, beer is more apt to tip you over the fullness line. Too much wine, on the other hand, may cause hangover headaches. But it’s not all bad: Both drinks supply antioxidants – wine contains resveratrol (from grapes), and beer has flavonoids (from hops and grain).
What to do: Stick to two drinks per meal to keep kilojoules and alcohol in check.
What’s a good protein source for vegetarians?
Many sides contain protein: Lentils supply 13 grams per cup; 3/4 cup mashed potatoes (milk-based) and one cup green beans each have three grams; a wedge of pumpkin adds seven, totalling 26 grams – right around the 20 to 25 grams recommended per meal.
What to do: Another option? Firm tofu is loaded with protein. Serve it with quinoa for 30 plus grams of protein.
Are low-kilojoule days a good way to offset heavy-eating days?
Studies show eating about two-thirds of your daily kilojoule needs for a few days out of the week helps control weight. But don’t consume fewer than 2100 kilojoules – you’ll feel lethargic and miss nutrients. Periodically scaling back may also help curb portion sizes on big-eating days because you get fuller quicker after near-fasting.
What to do: Pick a few days between feasts and reduce your kilojoules by 30 to 40 per cent; planning ahead boosts the chance you’ll follow through. And keep running – it’ll also help you avoid weight gain.
Should I eat a piece of Christmas pudding pre- or post-run?
Post-run, for several reasons: Exercise reduces appetite, so you may eat less pudding after putting in some kilometres. If you ate the pudding pre-run, it would actually suppress the number of kilojoules you’d burn during digestion. Plus, you’d risk feeling too full to run at all and may instead opt for more delicious pudding, rather than working out. The best argument for eating pudding post-run, however, is that exercise boosts kilojoule burning even after you’ve stopped running.
What to do: Run intervals, then eat Christmas pudding. Studies suggest the afterburn may increase slightly if you eat right after a hard run.
BURN IT OFF
Undo dinner’s damage…