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Earn your Christmas

’Tis the season …. to wear yoga pants, which is very dangerous around Christmas time.

The combination of colder weather, working from home and less socialising means that we’re pulling on yoga pants (or your comfy-pants equivalent) at every opportunity. The problem is, they’re stretchy. Which means you don’t really notice when your waist starts to expand. That can lead to a rude awakening in January when your jeans won’t zip up.

Most people put on 2lbs over Christmas – and rarely lose it. That’s an awful lot of festive weight gain over a twenty-year period. So how do we prevent it?

I have two strategies for you here. The first, is earn it! There’s nothing worse than overindulging and, in the back of your mind thinking, “Ugh, I’ll have to work this off in the New Year.” How about you pre-earn your Christmas now? Step up the activity, ditch the sugar and lay off the alcohol for two weeks? If you go into Christmas two pounds lighter, then gaining two pounds isn’t an issue AND you won’t have any negative back talk as you go through all the festivities.

Strategy two: correct your portion sizes in all circumstances. Do this now, and also do it at any dinners/parties you go to. Please bear in mind that my portion advice written here is for most people. If you are trying to gain weight, your portion recommendations would differ. But assuming that you’re someone who is interested in sustaining great energy through the day, whilst improving body composition (especially reducing body fat) then, very simply, here’s where I would focus my attention: quarter, quarter, half.

That’s right: quarter, quarter, half.

At lunch and dinner, try to make one quarter of your plate quality protein, one quarter of your plate slow-releasing carbs and half, abundant non-starchy salad or vegetables.

As plate sizes vary, the quarter protein is roughly the size of your palm, the quarter carbs is roughly what you could cup in one hand, cooked.

And if you’re not sure what counts as a carb or a protein (or a non-starchy salad/veg) then please see the lists I’ve written out for you below.

So, lunch can be as simple as a big green salad (half) with grilled chicken (quarter protein) and butternut squash (quarter carb).

When it comes to vegetarian/vegan proteins, the two “quarters” (protein and carbs) will often be combined. Although quinoa, brown rice, beans and lentils should all be considered carbs if you have them in isolation, when you combine them, you increase the amino acid profile. So if you made a vegan dish of mixed bean chilli with quinoa for example, this would be half your plate and then you’d still need half a plate of non-starchy salad/vegetables.

Does that make sense?

If you have a trainer that’s working with you on personalised macros then follow that instead. But otherwise, the above strategy gives you some simple steps to follow that, cumulatively, make a massive difference. I often see people accidentally doubling up on carbs at meals – having a larger portion of rice/potatoes/pasta or choosing carrots/corn/pumpkin as vegetables. Growing up in England, we always had fruit after a meal as “dessert” but in fact that’s double carbs too (if you already had a carb with your main meal). One of my top tips is that if you are having dessert or fruit, then just have protein with salad/veggies for your main.

Even if your only option at an event was fried chicken with peas and rice, you could still practice damage limitation by having a quarter plate of fried chicken, a quarter plate of peas and rice and half a plate of salad (that maybe you brought with you). When you practise this day in, day out, it’s an incredibly easy way to stay on track even when the choices are not ideal.

Here are your lists!

Quality protein (ideally choose organic animal products and soy):


Grass-fed beef


Fish, especially oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel)





Quinoa/beans/lentils (some protein but also carbs):

Slower releasing carbs:

Wholegrains (brown rice, large oats, wholewheat pasta/bread/crackers)

Quinoa, beans, lentils

Sweet potato


Butternut Squash

Carrots (It’s fine to have them but have them as your carb!)


Whole fruit

Non-starchy veg/salad:

All salad leaves

Dark leafy greens: broccoli, kale etc

Green veg: green beans, zucchini, asparagus etc

Peppers (all colours)





Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist. For more details: www.natural.bm, 505-4725, Natural Nutrition Bermuda on Facebook and @naturalbda on Instagram

At lunch and dinner, try to make one quarter of your plate quality protein, one quarter of your plate slow-releasing carbs and half, abundant non-starchy salad or vegetables

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Published November 27, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated November 25, 2020 at 2:06 pm)

Earn your Christmas

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