The average person will consume a whopping 7,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. Watching what you eat is probably not at the top of your list of priorities this Christmas but
if you’re training for events or focused on a health goal, being a bit more sensible on Christmas Day will not only help prevent any guilt, it will also help you stay on track with your targets.
The basic Christmas dinner of turkey and plenty of vegetables is actually a healthy meal. It’s all the extras we add to the plate and eat throughout the day that add up, especially foods high in carbohydrate and poor quality fats.
Have a mince pie – but not three
A great starting point is to limit how much sugar is consumed throughout the day. Don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself. Be conscious of how many treats you’re consuming.
Think about how you balance your plate
Nuffield Health’s Healthy Weight Programme recommends that main meals should have half the plate as non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of the plate protein and, to support weight loss, slightly less than a quarter of the plate for higher carbohydrate foods such as whole grains and starchy vegetables.
If you’re the chef on the day, this is a great opportunity for you to think about which foods you use. Turkey is a leaner meat than duck or goose. And when it comes to carbohydrates to pair with your Christmas dinner, choose between sweet potatoes, parsnip, roast potatoes, stuffing or Yorkshire pudding rather than having them all.
Swap bad fats for vegetables
A great way to bulk out a Christmas dinner is by swapping some of the ‘bad fats’ you find in pigs in blankets, for example, for more vegetables. Brussels sprouts are the marmite of the Christmas dinner but they’re also one of the healthiest parts. They’re a great source of fibre and vitamins C and K. Or try kale, broccoli or peas instead.
Cut down on the fat
The fat we use in cooking is also important. Try using just a light spray or drizzle of a quality oil such as extra virgin olive oil or just a dob of coconut oil.
Make your own gravy
Gravy is an essential part of the Christmas meal, but this doesn’t have to compromise either health or calories. Pour the juices from the roast meat into a saucepan and skim off the fat that comes to the top. To the remaining stock add some water from cooking the vegetables to obtain the desired volume of gravy. To this you can either blend in onion and carrot that have been cooked with the meat, or sprinkle in some brown rice flour stirring thoroughly to avoid any lumps. This beats shop-bought gravy granules any day.
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