Christmas is the time for celebration (and indulgence, if we’re honest). But if you are trying to follow a healthy eating and exercise routine – or have specific issues that require you to monitor your diet – Christmas need not be the time to overdo it. Here are a few things to bear in mind this festive season:
- Enjoy everything in moderation. For example, don’t indulge in mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding for dessert – choose one and really enjoy it.
- If you’re having a large meal at lunchtime or dinner, you don’t necessarily need a large breakfast. Think smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, a delicious piece of seasonal fruit and something sparkling to drink.
- Eat from a smaller plate (and don’t fill it). This will help you monitor portion size.
- Try to avoid having too much stuffing, gravy and bread sauce, cream, flavoured butters and roasted potatoes with your festive meal. Instead focus on vegetables and roasted meats.
- Allow yourself a small portion of dessert – a small fruit meringue or sorbet would be a good choice.
- If you are having a cheeseboard, have only your very favourites and in small amounts, with a water biscuit rather than bread.
- Eat slowly and try to have a break between courses to allow the food to digest.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- If canapés and nibbles are presented, steer clear of salted nuts and snacks, deep fried foods, rich pastries, crispy coated and battered items and choose one or two lighter options only.
- Try to get some exercise. As the weather has cooled down, now’s the perfect time for a long walk with the dog, a swim or a cycle. Why not get some friends together to do something active on Christmas morning?
If you happen to be hosting this year here are a few tricks that will help you keep calories, fat and salt under control:
- Don’t automatically add butter and salt to vegetables. Offer them separately and allow guests to season to taste. Traditional Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips all make for good high-fibre, vitamin-rich additions to your meal.
- Skim as much of the fat as possible from your gravy. You can use a special fat separator or, as a handy trick, drop some ice cubes into the gravy – the fat will automatically stick to the ice and once your fish the cubes out, a lot of the fat will also be removed. Simply reheat before serving.
- Remove poultry skin before serving. Lean turkey meat is nutritious but the skin is high in fat.
- While potatoes roasted in duck or goose fat are delicious, it is far better to roast them after coating with olive oil. Sweet potatoes make for a great low GI alternative, too.
- If soup is on the menu, why not choose a lighter option this year? A chilled gazpacho is always a winner. Serve in small cups with a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs.
- Ideal starters include a prawn salad with a fruity dressing, smoked salmon with low fat crème fraîche or a grilled halloumi salad.
- While there’s rarely an easy way around the indulgence of dessert, you could offer guests a refreshing muddled berry juice to end the meal on a light and bright note.