Before we start, its not all bah humbug! We want you to enjoy your Christmas as much as possible, and we are definitely not telling you to lock yourself in a cupboard away from that mince pie that's giving you the eye. But we do want to make sure you don’t end up piling on the pounds which can be difficult to lose in January? As the new season kicks in, you need to be in tip top shape to kick off your new year with a bang. Well with hints and tips from our resident festive nutritionist Nazli to get your through the festive period, you can be ready and still enjoy the odd treat.
Our Top 5 Tips for Healthier Festive Parties
Most of us get into the festive spirit early on, with December being full of office parties, meals with friends and family as well as the trips to the Xmas markets. And don't forget the festive snacks and treats in the office and the drinks on nights out too. Christmas is the time of the year to eat, drink and be merry. The tips we have prepared can help you to have a good time without overindulging.
1. Think about your portion sizes, especially at buffets. Studies show we are more likely to over eat if there is a large variety of options
2. If having a three course meal, opt for a light starter such as soups, smoked salmon or salads.
3. Think twice, don’t automatically say ‘yes’ to a second helping of dinner or another mince pie.
4. Try using sugar free mixers. For example a rum and cola provides 196 kcal whereas rum and diet cola provides 64 kcals, saving you 132 kcal. Swapping a glass of wine (250ml- 228kcal) for gin and slim line tonic (single-54kcal) can also save you 174 kcal. Similarly swapping 5% beer/ lager -244kcal for a 4% beer/lager- 182kcal, can typically save you 62 kcal easily. Why not try bottles of beer (132 kcal typically) if you are out for a few drinks?
5. It is not all doom and gloom. Dancing the night away can help you burn calories. You can also go for a walk the next day or the day before the event. If you are not a fan of big walks or do not have the time then you can change your daily habits. Just parking your car further whilst doing grocery shopping or getting off the bus one stop earlier can add up. Shopping can also involve a lot of walking around, hit the high street rather than doing it online if you want to be active.
Our Top 10 Tips for a Healthier Christmas Day
Did you know that many people eat their way through about 6,000 calories on Christmas Day? That’s about three times the recommended daily amount. According to the British Dietetic Association, on average people gain 1-5lbs (1-2.5kg) over Christmas.[i] But don’t fear, with our help, you can enjoy yourself and make healthier choices too. Here are some tips which may help motivate you to make some healthier choices:
1. When shopping for food, only buy what you need, make a list and stick to it. You will save some cash as well as unnecessary and often empty calories. Remember the shops will be open again in a couple of days. If something is on offer for a multi-buy, check the use by date. Check labelling information as the same ingredient could have far less sugar, salt or fat added, varying from one brand to another.
2. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Breakfast gives us energy so we are less likely to snack whilst waiting for Xmas Dinner. Try wholegrain bread, bagels or oats. Porridge with fruit is good, but grilled bacon/ sausage butty or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon can be nice but also healthier if grilled. Add grilled tomatoes and mushrooms to boost your veggie intake.
3. Before cooking, prick the skin to allow the fat to run out and cook the bird (or joint) on a stand/rack, so it is not sitting in fat when cooking. The skin on turkey or other meats is where most of the fat is so remove the skin. Light meat has slightly fewer calories than dark meat.
4. You can pour the meat juices in to a jug and give it time for the fat to rise to the surface, then spoon off the fat before using the juices to make lower fat gravy. Try and not add salt without tasting your meal, as gravy can be salty.
5. Why not try sausage meat stuffing with a chestnut or fruit-based version to reduce fat intake but also to try something different this year
6. Cut your potatoes and parsnips bigger for roasting. Larger ones absorb less fat during roasting. Parboil the potatoes, brush with some olive or vegetable oil and then finish off in the oven. Using a brush rather than pouring oil will save you money and calories.
7. We know pigs in blankets is a Christmas must have, grill these to lower fat content.
8. Serve a variety of vegetables as they are full of goodness. Use herbs, spices or lemon zest rather than butter (or reduce the amount of butter used) to add flavour. 10 g of butter (less than a tablespoon) contains 72 calories. Avoid seasoning with salt as your meal and gravy will contain a lot of it. Reducing consumption of salt contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure, important for overall health and fitness.
9. Christmas pudding is packed with fruit and is lower in fat compared to other puddings such as trifle. You can serve it with low-fat custard or crème fraiche. Serve it with custard made with lower fat milk rather than double cream or brandy butter.
10. If you are having cheese and crackers, avoid butter. There are many reduced fat cheese options too but we know Xmas is a time to enjoy yourself. You can choose stronger varieties such as Stilton, which means you can go for a smaller portion. Opt for wholegrain crackers or oatcakes. Why not add in a few grapes!
Our Top Five Protein Rich Leftovers
Use your leftovers as healthier meals, especially if you have really pushed the boat out on Xmas Day. Here are out top five high protein leftover ideas:
1. Turkey, ham, chicken, beef or salmon sandwiches on wholemeal bread and plenty of salad. Try chutney, cranberry sauce or horseradish to add some flavour.
2. Leftover meats and nut roast can also be nice served with a light salad.
3. Try making a soup with turkey/chicken and leftover veggies, alternatively a stew if you had beef.
4. Stir fry could be another idea to use up the veg and meat you may have as leftovers.
5. If you have boiled potatoes left, make a soup or potato salad to serve with lean protein. You can try using natural yoghurt or mustard dressing as an alternative mayonnaise (or try lighter mayo, in small amounts). If you have roast potatoes, slice and use them in a frittata, omelette or try bubble and squeak.
So there you have it. Kick back, relax, enjoy the Christmas festivities armed with these healthy eating tips and you will be well on your way to your most successful pre season training ever!