By Christine Dominguez
It’s easy to douse down a few beers and snag a few lamingtons under your belt on Australia Day. But, if you’re like most Aussies trying to stick to their New Year resolutions to eat better, we’ve put together some handy tips for sidestepping the kilo creep and nasty hangover.
In fact, according to a new survey conducted by the CSIRO*, 69 per cent of Aussies identified themselves as the main barrier to achieving their weight loss goals. The main culprits? More than half of self-saboteurs blamed social activities for ruining their weight managements, while other big culprits included lack of motivation and eating out.
So, while Australia Day can easily undo your well-intentioned resolutions, it doesn’t have to be that way with our top ten tips:
1. Eat breakfast
Even if you get up late, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast before the Australia Day celebrations begin. Skipping breakfast will cause your hunger to build up and by lunch time you’ll most likely be starving and eat more than you should. If you enjoy a sleep-in, space your meals out for the rest of the day.
2. Do a morning workout session
Lock in a morning workout so that it frees up the rest of your day to enjoy any social activities you have planned. Also, by starting your day well, chances are you’ll want to keep up your healthy efforts for the rest of the day.
3. Be prepared
We all know that heading out for a party on an empty stomach can leave you munching on unhealthy Australia Day food like chips and dips for way too long – adding unnecessary kilojoules you don’t need. If you plan to have a few drinks, it’s better to have food in your belly to help stabilise your blood sugar.
Snack on things like wholegrain crackers with some cheese, a nut or protein bar, or some Greek yoghurt and berries. By having a light meal before a party, you’re less likely to overindulge in Pavlova and ice-cream.
4. Entertaining? Plan healthy food
It may be a national pastime, but hosting a great big BBQ could be a health disaster if it isn’t done properly. Swap the heavy classics for something lighter. Instead of greasy sausages why not try some seafood. Tuna, salmon and prawns are all well suited for the BBQ and excellent sources of protein that will keep you satiated.
When grilling meat, make sure to keep the flame of the grill low, the time it takes to cook is longer but this reduces the risk of damaging chemicals occurring in the meat, and avoids charring and burning. Turning the meat frequently will also avoid any harmful charring. Don’t forget to also make plenty of fresh salads, serve some homemade dips and chopped veggies or make a tropical fruit salad for dessert.
5. Choose healthy options
When filling your plate - or satisfying your tastebuds - choose wisely to cut your kilojoule intake by focusing on eating mostly healthy protein and veggie-based options and avoid any fried and processed packet foods where possible.
6. Snag the perfect Aussie burger
Australia Day doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a whopping burger. A healthy version doesn’t have to compromise on taste, either. Just use an extra lean mince and add grated carrot, zucchini and onion into the patty. Then use an egg and quinoa in the mince mixture to hold it all together.
For the bun, use wholegrain instead of a traditional white burger bun and ensure you load it with your favourite salad veggies to the burger – like lettuce, tomato, cucumber, beetroot – and even a piece of pineapple for a sweet addition! Just make sure you avoid the bacon, fried eggs and melted cheese.
7. Know your portion sizes
Have you ever dug into a slab of steak thinking it could feed two people instead of just the one? Let's be honest, a healthy portion is almost always smaller than the average portion most of us eat.
Remember, a healthy portion of steak should be about the size of your palm. Ensure you know what a healthy portion looks like and you’ll be avoiding the dreaded bloat the next day. A good rule of thumb is to simply eat how you would normally eat.
8. Mix your drinks
If you intend to enjoy a tipple or two, ensure you follow each alcoholic drink with water or mineral water.
Alcohol has an impact on your weight and health – there’s a huge amount of kilojoules that can go under the radar when you’re not keeping track!
For every drink, have a glass of water. As a healthy alternative, make a ‘mocktail’ for both the adults and children, to keep everyone well hydrated. The night before, stick some favourite fresh fruits in the freezer such as slices of lemons and limes, or berries. Put a handful of frozen fruit in, plenty of ice and fill with sparkling water.
9. Focus on an outdoor activity
Plan a fun outdoor activity throughout the day as it will be less likely that you will drink across the whole day. Play a game of cricket or a couple of sets of tennis. If you’re down by the beach, why not squeeze in a couple laps in the pool? You could also go bushwalking or build sandcastles on the beach.
10. Treat yourself
You can still enjoy your favourite foods while you’re trying to lose weight – but all in moderation. Allow yourself that slice of Pavlova, or a lamington or VoVo biscuit. As long as you’re eating healthy for most of the week, it shouldn’t put a dent on your otherwise healthy diet.