Overdone It Again?

By Malu Lambert
Photography from istockphoto.com 

Put down that slice of fruitcake, with a bit of healthy imagination and discipline you can eat your way back into your pre-festive shape.

Mince pies slathered in cream. A leg of cold turkey. And a sandwich made with leftover gammon. And, that’s just for breakfast… 

If this sounds like you over the festive season, fear not, you are not alone. The entire country loosens its collective belt—along with its inhibitions—as soon as the familiar jingle bells hit the airwaves.

What isn’t so cheery however, is the unfamiliar jiggle you acquire around your middle.

The last thing you’re going to want to do to get back into shape is punish yourself with carrot sticks. There just has to be a tastier way.

This is where the three golden rules come in. Balance. Variety. Moderation.

In other words have fun with your food. If you make food a chore, you’ll be more tempted to rebel, and ‘cheat’. The trick is to not go on a diet, but instead to adopt a lifestyle change.

Why not try growing your own herbs? Not only will you be more excited about eating them, but also the possibilities for experimentation are huge. 

live Oil Keeps Hunger at Bay

Instead of frying food in oil or drowning your salad with a creamy store bought dressing, you can make your own herb infused olive oils that will add richness and taste to anything you make. On the plus side olive oil is said to keep hunger pangs at bay. Oleic acid found in foods rich in unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado and nuts, stimulates the production of a compound called oleoylethanolamide (OEA) that decreases appetite.

The method is simple; take a bunch of the chosen herb and infuse it in extra virgin olive oil. You can add some zing to the oil by adding garlic or chilli. Let the herbs impart their flavour into the oil. It shouldn’t take more than two days. And use the oils to flavour anything you like: pasta, salads, fish, meat. The only trick is that moderation is key. Don’t drown your food in the oil, simply drizzle it over.

There are certain herbs that can actually aid weight loss, such as cayenne. The capsicum found in the pepper improves circulation and digestion. It is said that it increases core body temperature, which in turn increases the metabolism. It makes sense—if your body temperature goes up the energy has to come from somewhere. In this case, the fat around your middle.

Parsley is another underrated herb. The curly green stuff is always the ubiquitous garnish instead of the green superhero it should be. It can help curb the appetite and also help maintain proper blood sugar levels. Parsley is also a rich source of chlorophyll, which inhibits bacterial activity and therefore aids digestion. In order to make the most of these properties whiz up some carrot and parsley juice. Or make a spinach and parsley soup, dotted with feta for extra falvour.

Cinnamon, just like cayenne, is said to create a thermogenic burn—helping the body to burn its own fat. It also lowers blood sugar levels, which is essential in the fight against fat.

How Do You Start the Day?

A cup of tea in the morning is always a good way to start the day. Swap your sugary milky brew for the metabolism enhancing properties of green tea, oolong tea, dandelion root tea and black tea.

Adding herbs to your diet will improve your quality of life but it’s also your eating habits that play a role in how your body burns fat. For example, instead of eating three large meals a day, rather eat six small portions. You won’t suffer—at least not too much. Not every meal has to have everything on it. It’s time to give the ol’ meat and two vegetables the heave-ho, and instead focus on a variety of nutritionally rich foods.

A good way to do this is to embark on a food adventure. Visit a farmers market on the weekend. This way you can stock up on fresh vegetables and, at the same time, get fresh ideas for the week ahead.

So forget about starving yourself thin. It simply won’t work. With a little healthy imagination—and some discipline—you can eat your way back into shape.

Think about this. Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs. Wild Mushroom Soup. Seared Tuna Niçoise. Chicken Breast Wrapped in Parma Ham. And, that’s all in one day.