Simple secrets to a healthier Christmas

By PA/TPN, in Food and Drink · 11-12-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Ah, Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but equally the most disastrous for your waistline, liver and stress levels.

Between the thousands of Quality Street, visits from the in-laws, gallons of booze and a mammoth roast dinner to fork your way through, it’s no wonder we usually enter January feeling hungover, burnt out and ready to splurge on whatever gym membership or wellness cure claims to restore some semblance of vitality.

But December doesn’t have to be a calorie-laden blowout, as keeping the decadence in check is easier than you might think.

Leading fitness and nutrition experts give their top tips on how you can have a healthy Christmas this year, without missing out on the festive fun.

Keep it real
With January looming on the horizon, it’s tempting to get a head start and kid yourself you’ll be hitting the gym every morning. You might be off work for a week, but let’s face it - amongst all the festive drinking and killer Christmas TV, the likelihood of you sticking to your plan is pretty low.
As the weather in the winter months can be unpredictable, it’s good to stay flexible about how you’ll be getting a sweat on. Perhaps the roads are too icy for a run? Or the gym is closed because of
Covid-19? “Christmas is the perfect time to take to the living room instead with a free YouTube workout video” says Sealy.

Swap your drinks for lower-calorie alternatives
During the festive season, it can be tricky to keep track of what you’re drinking - one drink turns into many, and before you know it, you’ve polished off a whole bottle.
“Many of us are unaware of just how much sugar and how many calories there are in some of our favourite alcoholic beverages,” says Elliot Moore, lifestyle health adviser for Bupa UK, and it can easily add up. “A pint of lager for example, contains the same amount of calories as a slice of pizza.”

As well as staying conscious of your drink count, Moore advises switching to low-calorie mixers with spirits, plumping for a spritzer instead of white wine and avoiding the sugar-laden cocktails completely.

It’s important to pace yourself and stay hydrated too. “For every unit of alcohol you drink, it takes your body around one hour to digest it, so be mindful of how fast and how much you’re drinking and try to space your drinks out.”

Consider these dinner table swaps
If you’re on chef duty this Christmas, think about making a few simple switches that can slash your all-important calorie count, without sacrificing the taste.
“As a general rule, if you’re trying to limit your calorie intake, avoid anything deep fried, battered or covered in pastry,” says Moore. “Swap crisps and salted nuts for popcorn, raw nuts or olives, and instead of serving sausage rolls or pigs in blankets, why not try smoked salmon blinis or prawn skewers instead?”

Poach your turkey
Not everyone is a fan of eating turkey on Christmas day, but white meat is secretly your best friend as it’s an excellent source of protein, and turkey in particular is very lean - plus, it’s particularly low in saturated fat.
Don’t scrimp on the sprouts and cranberry sauce
“Sprouts are so underrated,” says Moore, “they really are little nutrient powerhouses.” Loaded with important vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and magnesium, they can help to give that all-important winter boost.
“Try roasting them alongside some traditional chestnuts for an added sweetness, as these are another surprising source of vitamin C.”
Cranberry sauce is another healthy guest pleaser. “Berries are packed with nutrients - brightly coloured foods are often super rich in antioxidants - and cranberries boast an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, which is good for skin health, and iodine, to help support your metabolism.”
Make your own cranberry sauce to avoid pre-packaged versions high in added sugar, and give it a splash of orange juice for an extra charge of sweetness and vitamin C.

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