If you’ve worked hard getting your body into shape this year this is not the time to undo all your efforts with a Christmas blow out. But it doesn’t mean missing out on traditional favourites. Here’s how to avoid that holiday weight gain by making savvy choices.
The festive season can be a difficult time to keep to your healthy regime. With all those family gatherings, parties and meals out, eating fatty, sugary food becomes the norm. We consume, on average, a whopping 6-7,000 calories over the course of Christmas Day around 3-4 times a woman’s daily recommended intake. It’s no wonder that on average people gain about 5lbs over the festive season. It takes just 3,500 extra calories to put on 1lb in weight and with all those little treats it’s easily done. The main course alone can add up to 1000 calories.
The good news is that many festive foods can be healthy. There are plenty of Santa’s superfoods – you just need to make savvy choices and watch those little ‘extras’. If you’re looking for healthy recipes then grab my festive paleo and gluten free recipe ebook
Turkey: A great source of lean protein, iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. Contains tryptophan, an amino acid which the body converts to serotonin a brain chemical known for its mood-boosting properties (useful if the family’s already stressing you out).
Make it healthier: 100g serving of roast turkey without skin (104 calories, 2g fat). Removing the skin saves you 40 calories and over half the fat. Light meat has fewer calories but darker meat contains more iron.
Sweet Potatoes: Instead of roast potatoes why not opt for roasted sweet potatoes? With their lovely orange colour they are an excellent source of beta-carotene; the plant form of vitamin A and an essential nutrient for healthy skin and a healthy immune system. The vitamin C content of sweet potatoes provides further defence-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. If you cut them into wedges and bake them in the oven they make a healthier carb option
Make it Healthier: Don’t drench your potatoes in inflammatory vegetable oil – this can result in your consuming 149kcal and 4.5g fat. Boil or bake. Alternatively par boil then coat in a little coconut oil before roasting. Coconut oil is a heat stable fat and preferentially used by the body as a fuel source plus it contains lauric acid to support immune health.
Brussels sprouts and other veggies: Love them or hate them it’s worth piling the sprouts on your plate – bursting with cancer fighting sulforaphane, folate, vitamin C and fibre they have been shown to reduce DNA damage. Cover your plate with a rainbow selection of steamed veggies and boost your antioxidant intake.
Make it Healthier: Forget drenching them in creamy sauces or sugary dressings – just lightly steam for maximum flavour and health benefits. You can always then toss in a pan with herbs and spices for additional flavour Calorie wise and carb wise you’re on to a winner. 1 cup (150g) Brussels sprouts only contains 65 calories
Cranberry Sauce: Rich in flavonoids these red gems will help immune health and keep urinary tract infections at bay.
Make it healthier: Shop bought versions can be sugar ladened so make your own by simmering fresh cranberries with orange juice and red wine.
Stuffing and ‘extras’
Sausages, meat stuffing and bacon are processed, high in salt and often additives. Just one rasher of bacon contains up to 6g fat and 90 calories. Add a serving of stuffing with gravy and you’re eating over 320 calories.
Make it healthier: Swap the sausage meat for a nut and fruit based stuffing for more antioxidants, healthier fats and more fibre. This will fill you up and provide valuable nutrients to keep you energised.
CHRISTMAS DESSERTS & TREATS
Mince pies: just because they contain dried fruit does not make these healthy! One mince pie contains 203 calories and ladened with sugar – about 4tsp per mince pie.
Make it healthier: Make your own so you know what they contain – try making mini versions too. Sweeten homemade mincemeat if needed with xylitol to keep the sugar content down as much as possible. See our ebook for some healthy paleo mince pies
Christmas Pudding: Again a serving will set you back over 320 calories, 49g sugar (over 12tsp) and 8g fat. Add a dollop of brandy butter and you are talking serious calories and sugar. Make your own to reduce the sugar content.
Make it healthier: Watch your portion size and top it with Greek yogurt or Coconut yogurt instead of cream and you’ll also give your body some healthy beneficial bacteria.
Christmas Cake: A slice of cake with marzipan and icing will set you back 200 calories and 30g sugar (7tsp).
Box of Chocs: Half a selection box 125g box adds up to 680 calories and 15tsp sugar
Satsumas: A low calorie treat bursting with vitamin C, antioxidants and plenty of soluble fibre. 2 satsumas contain 36 calories
Dark chocolate: Choose at least 70% cocoa solids. Prevent overdoing it and pick mini bars, I love making my own raw chocolates too
Handful of mixed nuts: Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and essential fats plus vits and minerals (the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study found just 2-4g a day cuts cardiovascular disease risk by 12%). 1oz contains 174 calories
Red wine / mulled wine. Rich in heart protective antioxidants particularly resveratrol but watch how much you consume. 1 glass contains 122 calories and is high in sugar. Highest content of antioxidants are found in Pinot Noir varieties. For children why not try warm apple or cherry concentrate with star anise and cinnamon. This cherry juice is actually a source of melatonin so may help your children sleep better on Christmas Eve
At a party and not sure what to choose? Firstly try and have a light snack prior to going to the party. Don’t be tempted to starve yourself all day as you are likely to overeat sampling everything on the buffet table. Avoid standing near the buffet table – you will nibble and pick at food eating far more calories than you intend to. Drink plenty of water through the even as well to keep you feeling fuller.
- Vegetable sticks & salsa, hummus and tzatziki
- Unsalted nuts and seeds
- Salad & vegetables
- Lean turkey & ham slices
- Smoked mackerel or smoked salmon
- Fresh Fruit
Not so healthy..
- Crisps & fried snacks
- Sausage rolls & pasties
- Shop bought coleslaw / potato salads
- Pasta salads
- Quiches, vol au vents, spring rolls
- Battered prawns, crispy fried foods
- Sweets and chocolates
- Cocktails, Beer and Cider
WHAT IF I OVERDO IT?
Don’t beat yourself up – and don’t make it an excuse to carry on eating too much or too much of the wrong types of foods. If you feel you need to clean up your diet why not follow one of our detox programmes.