Have A Healthy Christmas

Christmas is coming, and if its only the goose you want to get fat, a little forward planning can help you survive the coming party season without too much pain!

Studies have shown that Ms (and Mr) Average gains around 5 lbs (2kg) in the four-week Christmas period!  After all the Christmas festivities you start the New Year feeling overweight, sluggish and somewhat grubby.  So what can you do to mitigate this feeling.

Let’s start with how best to handle the party season.  Party food tends to be of the high fat variety – crisps, sausage rolls etc.  Not to mention the booze.  And the wider the range of food on offer the more you are likely to eat.  Well, a couple of simple strategies to handle this are firstly to ensure you don’t start the evening hungry – before arriving eat a small snack such as a couple of oat cakes, small bowl of cereal or a yoghurt to ensure you don’t have hunger pangs and start to work your way through the buffet!  Another strategy is to allow yourself to choose from only a few items.  Look at what’s on offer, select one or two of the more healthy choices, and stick to them.

Alcohol, of course, contains calories – a small glass of red wine has 85 calories, so injudicious imbibing can make a big difference to your calorie intake.  Don’t top up your glass before you’ve finished as it makes it harder to keep track of what you’ve had, and have some soft drinks, or water, through the evening as well as the alcohol.  Also, alcohol stimulates the appetite so be aware of this, and of course, a few drinks can easily undermine that resolve not to overdo things so be aware that every glass of wine is likely to be a nail in the coffin of good intentions!

Snacks abound around Christmas – mince pies, chocolates, crisps etc.  Try and ensure there are some healthy alternatives such as nuts and seed mixes to pick at, or dried apricots, or even carrot batons.  That way you can balance out a bad choice with a good choice.

There are simple things you can do enjoy Christmas dinner without overdoing it as well – it is easy to consume up to 6,000 calories at this one meal!  That’s three times the recommended daily intake for a man.  So small adjustments can help to make a difference.

When cooking the turkey place it on a rack in the roasting tin so the fat drains through.  Pricking the skin will also allow the bird to release its fat during cooking.  The skin on the turkey (or goose!) is where much of the fat resides, so remove it.  Sausage meat stuffing has more calories than a chestnut or fruit or herb based stuffing.  Make the bread sauce using semi skimmed or skimmed milk, and if you’re making the gravy using the turkey juices, pour then into a jug first and allow the fat to rise to the top and skim it off before using.

Have plenty of vegetables as they are excellent in helping to keep the calories down – but don’t overdo the butter.  Use a sprinkle of herbs or lemon juice instead to add flavour.

Roast potatos absorb fat during the cooking process, so cut them larger, rather than smaller, as there will be less overall surface area to absorb fat this way.

Last but not least, the Christmas pudding.  This is a veritable calorie fest in itself, but you can help things along by having custard made with semi-skimmed milk with it instead of cream or brandy butter, or sweet white sauce, made with a natural sugar substitute such as xylitol, which has considerably less calories (I would never recommend an aspartame based sweetener).

Don’t sit on the sofa groaning after Christmas dinner – go out for a walk, or even a bike ride.  The exercise and fresh air will help to work off some of the extra intake.  Think of taking some exercise after Christmas as well.  Some people suffer from a low after Christmas is over, and exercise is a great mood enhancer.

So there you are, a few simple steps you can take to offset the excesses of the season.  But above all, enjoy!


© Saira Salmon 2006