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HEALTH PLUS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT

Christmas is notoriously a time for overindulgence, more so in a year when the world came to a halt and the fragility of our existence became more evident. Not being a grinch with your joy this season, but Health Plus wanted to ensure, you revel in all the festivities without too much impact on your health and waistline.

Christmas Calories

It is our working assumption that when the Christmas pudding appears, calories stop counting! It might be surprising to find out, we get through around 7,000 calories on Christmas day alone, that is more than double the recommended daily amount for men and more than three times that for women, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Now, the last thing we want to do is put you off your favourite festive treats but if you are trying to balance things out this holiday season and not add to the Covid-19 weight gain, these tips may help you create that “mythical” healthful Christmas, without feeling like a dietary scrooge!

Substitute the white bread for brown at breakfast and bulk out your sandwich with some green salad and/or sliced tomato for extra nourishment. Some sandwiches completely skip the bread and use lettuce as the sleeves. Also, go easy on the cheese and cheesy sauces.

Drink water throughout the day – not only will this keep you hydrated, but it will also stop you mistaking thirst for hunger and therefore overindulging. Drinking water can also increase feelings of fullness.

Choose oatcakes over crackers for the slow-release sugars they contain – they keep you feeling fuller for longer. Oats also contain heart-friendly soluble fibre, which may help clear cholesterol from the bloodstream.

Avoid the crisps and baked snacks if you can; swap these for seasonal treats like pastels, nuts and seeds (pumpkin, chia, flax sunflower). Not only will you be cutting your fat and calorie intake, but you’ll also be providing your body with fibre and necessary micronutrients.

Steam your vegetables to retain nutrients. Flavour with garden herbs like rosemary, basil, cilantro or thyme; skipping the salt wherever you can as well.

When serving, make sure the majority of your plate is piled high with vegetables, and watch your portion sizes on other dishes.

Although turkey is a lean meat, you can cut calories even further by avoiding the skin, sticking to the slices of white meat only.

Swap sugar-filled, fizzy drinks for unsweetened drinks or the classic, homemade sorrel. A glass of eggnog or ponche de crème can set you back 500 calories; as delicious as it tastes, watch the number of glasses at any one intake.

If having alcohol, choose light beer. Avoid sugary drinks or switch out alcoholic drinks with a sparkling water. These are great ways to reduce empty calories. Always in moderation.

Mince pies are synonymous with Christmas, however each mince pie is roughly 300 calories, and high in saturated fat and sugar because of the pastry case, as well as the suet and sugar in the mincemeat filling. If you are baking your own, only use pastry for the base and leave the top open, just add a small star of pastry or use a lower-fat pastry.

Chocolates: try good-quality, dark chocolate instead; this will give you the cocoa kick in fewer calories. As an added bonus, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate may, in small amounts, help to prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.

Following these tips could save you roughly 3,000 calories, which just shows you really can have your cake and eat it!

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