It’s not crackers
With a couple of subtle changes, your festive dinner can still be good for you, so no need for an emergency gym visit
Anearly empty tin of Quality Street on the coffee table, an always open bottle of Prosecco in the fridge door and the smell of warm mince pies in the air; Christmas is truly a magical time of the year. It is also one of the most gluttonous and exhausting times in the calendar.
There’s always a Christmas party to go to, family to see and then there’s a big New Year celebration to get through too. December is a month full of temptation and makes even the most health conscious of people tumble off the wagon leading to the dreaded January guilt and hurrying to your nearest gym. But it doesn’t have to be like this; there are ways you can still enjoy the festive season while remaining health conscious. You may think it’s an impossible dream, but healthy eating can be done without restricting your enjoyment of the festive season.
Many people like to start the day with an indulgent breakfast. If you choose gifted chocolates or the traditional fry-up this is your first mistake. But it is a hurdle you can overcome by simply swapping to a smoked salmon dish, which is rich in omega 3, a mood boosting nutrient that can also help improve our body’s ability to manage stress (very useful once the family game of trivia comes around).
With the main event, turkey with all the trimmings is usually everyone’s go-to, and most would agree that dinner isn’t the same without roast potatoes. However, these tasty morsels are often heavily salted and cooked in goose fat and so are definitely on the naughty list. Try trading half the white potatoes with half sweet potatoes to lesson the calorie intake whilst boosting your fibre intake. But if you’re aiming to be really good, why not bypass the carbfuelled dish altogether and try roasting cauliflower. Still full of flavour without any of the guilt.
At this time of the year it’s so important to include everyone, and with the rise in vegetarianism and veganism that means you might have to cater for very different dietary needs. Instead of the traditional turkey, perhaps try making a mixed vegetable and nut roast, with nuts being high in healthy fats. Where there’s turkey, there’s stuffing, but instead of the usual gut buster, why not try a mixed mushroom stuffing? Still tasty, vegetarian friendly and lower in salt and fat.
Once you’ve made it through your Christmas lunch, the only battle left is dessert – for some, this is the hardest hurdle to overcome. Hang on, you may say, this is Christmas and you just can’t skimp on a slice of warm Christmas pudding.
We aren’t suggesting you do, but just be mindful of how big the portion size is and if possible bake your own desserts so you’re aware of what goes in them.
But remember Christmas is a time of celebration, so don’t feel you have to deprive yourself. We are all human, so there is always time for a little over-indulgence. With a few tweaks here or there, however, Boxing Day may not be such a slog after all.
‘Healthy eating can be done without restricting your enjoyment of the festive season’
LEFT:Start Christmas Day with salmon, avocado and chilli jam on toast