Feel fab this Christmas with our diet plan – and you can still enjoy festive favourites – The Mirror

Mediterranean-style diets with plenty of lean protein, such as chicken and fish, are the most effective way to lose weight, nutrition research shows
December may be just around the corner, but if you haven’t got round to shifting a few pounds and cleaning up your diet so you look and feel your best in time for Christmas, don’t worry.
There is still time with our easy to follow and super-effective two-week plan.
Our diet will help you lose half a stone with ease – and without banning all your favourite winter comfort foods.
We’ve even included daily festive treats, and smart swaps that’ll help you navigate seasonal parties and dinners.
So you’ll still be able to have your Christmas cake and eat (a sensible portion) of it!
This plan is packed with nutritious meals that will help boost energy levels to ensure you not only survive but thrive during the busiest time of the year.
It’s suitable for men and women, and it’s an eating plan you can do with your partner, which is good news as research shows dieting with a loved one triples the chances of success for both of you.
Single? Find a diet buddy and take on the challenge together.
So what are you waiting for – you can start today.
The latest nutrition research shows that the healthiest and most effective way to lose weight is to follow a Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of lean protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and beans, along with wholemeal carbs such as granary bread and brown rice, plus plenty of fruit and veg.
This balanced diet will ensure you lose body fat but maintain lean muscle mass, and it also helps to keep blood sugar levels stable to banish food cravings.
Our plan includes good amounts of protein with each meal, which is essential for keeping hunger at bay and will also boost energy levels into the bargain.
And all of the meals are simple, tasty and quick to prepare – so you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen. Plus you get to enjoy a daily festive treat such as a mini mince pie or some Quality Street.
Men and women have different daily calorie needs – as a rough guide for healthy weight loss, women should consume around 1,500 calories a day and men 2,000. But there’s no need to count calories on our plan – instead all you have to do is use your hand as a portion measure.
Indeed, in many ways, your hand is a better guide for measuring food intake than counting calories because it’s proportional to your own body size and never changes. Simply stick to the easy male and female portion sizes below – most of the time this means two hands for men and one for women.
Pick from the meal choices listed, applying the specified portion size for men and women. And enjoy one daily festive treat from the list.
For each meal, use your palm to check your protein portion size for meat, fish, eggs, dairy or meat substitute.
One portion is roughly the same thickness and diameter as your palm. A carb portion – potato, rice, pasta, bread, etc – should fit into your cupped hand.
You can have unlimited veggies with every meal, unless otherwise stated in the recipe.
Two palm-sized pieces of protein with every meal
Two cupped hands of carbs with most meals
One palm-sized piece of protein with every meal
One cupped hand of carbs with most meals
Chilli “non” carne and rice:
Fry one chopped small red onion, ½ chopped red pepper, one garlic clove and 1tsp chilli powder to taste in 1tsp olive oil until brown. Add 150g meat-free mince (100g for women) and fry until brown. Add ½ can chopped tomatoes, ½ can kidney beans and 1tbsp tomato puree. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the veg is cooked.
Serve with 8tbsp cooked brown rice (5tbsp for women) and 1tbsp Greek yogurt.
Lebanese chicken tray bake: Bake chicken breast (two palm-sized portions for men, one for women – tofu can be used in its place) in foil with a handful of chopped olives, one crushed garlic clove, lemon slices and a drizzle of olive oil. In the same tray add a red onion, quartered, half a chopped red pepper and half a can of drained chickpeas, drizzle with ½ tbsp olive oil and 1tsp harissa spices and roast everything for 25-30 minutes.
Grilled lean steak: Two palm-sized portions for men, one for women or same size cauliflower steak/meat-free meatballs, served with two handfuls of white cannellini beans (one handful for women) drizzled with a little vinegar and olive oil. Plus steamed broccoli, broad beans and peas with 1tsp fresh chopped mint.
Mixed vegetable and coconut milk curry: Fry half a chopped onion, one chopped red pepper and one cubed sweet potato with 2tsp curry powder. Add half a can of coconut milk and simmer until cooked. Serve with 8tbsp cooked brown basmati rice (5tbsp for women).
Spanish fish bake: Any white fish fillet (two palm-sized portions for men, one for women) baked with three slices chopped chorizo. Serve with two handfuls steamed new potatoes (one for women), plus unlimited carrots, broccoli and green beans.
Lean pork chop: Two palm-sized portions for men, one for women, grilled and topped with a pineapple ring. Serve with oven-roasted
Vegetables – One sliced pepper, one sliced courgette, two tomatoes and half a chopped red onion drizzled with 1tbsp olive oil and cooked in the oven for 30 minutes.
There’s no need to feel deprived on this plan. Enjoy one of these festive treats each day.
SWAP: Pigs in blankets
FOR: Parma ham and asparagus
These festive trimmings contain 19.3g fat and 289 calories per 100g. Opt instead for Parma ham wrapped around asparagus. The fibre content of the asparagus helps improve digestion and 100g only contains 13 calories. Add four slices of Parma ham and you are still under 10g of fat and around 136 calories.
SWAP: Eggnog
FOR: Mulled wine
With all that cream, it’s not surprising that eggnog contains a whopping 350 calories and 9g of sugar per serving. Equally festive mulled wine – if made with sweetener and spices (no added sugar) – contains just 100 or so calories.
SWAP: Sausage rolls
FOR: Chicken skewers
Chicken is a lower fat choice than pork, so look for non-breaded or battered party snacks such as chicken satay or marinated chicken that will give you a protein hit. If you can’t resist, go for a cocktail sausage on its own rather than one covered in buttery pastry. You’ll make an instant saving of around 40 calories.
SWAP: Sour cream
FOR: Salsa or chutney
Tomato-based dips pack in far less fat – salsa has around 60 calories less per tablespoon than sour cream. If you miss that creamy texture, try reduced-fat houmous or a low-fat yogurt dip instead. And eat dips with vegetable crudites instead of crisps to save more calories too.
SWAP: Baileys
FOR: A slimline gin and tonic
Baileys may be a classic Christmas tipple, but a modest 50ml measure contains 162 calories and 8g fat, while a refreshing G&T made with slimline tonic contains just 64 calories and zero fat.
SWAP: Dry roasted peanuts
FOR: Olives
A festive drink often comes with free nibbles – but dry roasted peanuts are full of calories. Choose olives instead which are lower in calories and contain heart healthy vitamin E. A portion of 10 olives contains around 50 calories, while a small handful of nuts contains closer to 200.
1 SHOP SMART We all buy too much food at Christmas, but while on this plan it’s best to shop for a whole week’s meals in advance. This means you won’t ever go home to an empty fridge when you’re tired and hungry and have to resort to takeaways – or raid the treat cupboard.
2 EAT LESS AT LUNCH If you know you’re eating out during the evening, make sure you have one of the lighter lunch options such as soup or sushi and skip your treat that day.
3 HAVE A PRE-PARTY SNACK Heading to a party straight from work? Fill up on something healthy first to avoid breaking the plan. Unless you eat beforehand, it’s hard to resist those canapes. So choose something light and healthy from the lunch or breakfast menu before you go – such as a poached egg on toast or a granary sandwich.
4 GET MENU SAVVY FOR MEALS OUT Many Christmas parties ask you to select your meal in advance so there’s every opportunity to choose sensible options that will help you stick to your diet. Look for lighter choices such as soup and fish or ask for your roast without all the trimmings.
5 SKIP THE FESTIVE LATTE Those tempting Christmas coffees in seasonal flavours such as eggnog and gingerbread can clock up close to 500 calories a time – that’s a whole meal in a few gulps. Stick to a skinny flat white or Americano for the next two weeks.
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