How To Stay Healthy At Christmas

It would be pointing out the obvious to say that Christmas and healthy habits are usually mutually exclusive. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s what the experts recommend if you want to enjoy the excesses of the festive period, without undoing all your hard work…

Look At Your Diary

“An entire month dedicated to gorging is not going to leave anyone feeling great come January. Although the month of December is full of Christmas cheer and on-going food offers, remember to celebrate at the right time, not all the time. Enjoy yourself when there are celebrations planned, and in between these times, stick to your usual healthy diet and lifestyle.” – Kim Pearson, nutritionist and weight loss expert

Have A Mindful Morning

“There’s no need to eat breakfast just for the sake of it, simply because it’s Christmas day. If you aren’t hungry when you wake up and feel better eating your first meal later in the day, skip breakfast. But if you do enjoy breakfast and want something healthy yet indulgent on Christmas morning, choose a dish that’s high in protein and fibre. I'll be having scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and avocado on sourdough.” – Kim 

Don’t Always Opt For A Nut Roast

“Choosing the vegan option doesn’t always mean fewer calories – nut roasts, for example, are packed with good fats but contain significantly more calories than a few slices of turkey. The same can be true of pastry-wrapped veggie roasts and wellingtons. Remember turkey is a lean meat, so enjoying this as part of your Christmas plate is a great option.” – Gabriela Peacock, nutritional therapist and founder of GP Nutrition

Take Your Time

“Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean you need to go overboard. Eat slowly, chew food thoroughly (at least 30 chews per mouthful) and recognise when you’re starting to feel full. Put smaller portions of food on your plate knowing you can go back for more if you’re still hungry. Leave at least ten minutes before going back for seconds to give your gut time to communicate to your brain that you’re full.” – Kim 

Make Savvy Sugar Swaps

“It’s easy to end up eating a lot of sugar at this time of year. Try making healthier versions of classic Christmas favourites, such as mulled wine sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar. It’s easy to use xylitol as a substitute for sugar in recipes like cranberry sauce, too – no one will notice the difference.” – Kim 

Think About Quality

“It’s better to eat quality food and less of it. For example, rather than gorging on the Quality Streets, treat yourself to some higher quality chocolates, like Booja Booja truffles. They’re so rich it’s hard to eat too many. I advise my clients to eat mindfully and make conscious choices about what treats they’re really going to enjoy, rather than taking an all or nothing approach and eating foods simply because they’re there.” – Kim 

Stock Up On Seafood

“Luxuries don’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. For example, a seafood platter with crab, lobster, crayfish and scallops with homemade olive oil mayonnaise and fresh dill is a favourite of mine.” – Kim 

Curate A Healthier Cheeseboard

“Always choose organic cheese if you are going to eat dairy. Stick to moderate portion sizes and fill your plate with other healthy options to accompany the cheese, such as walnuts, fresh figs, olives and celery sticks. You can also choose healthier crackers, like oatcakes, rather than crackers made from white flour.” – Kim 

Don’t Be Too Organised

“It is great to be prepared, however sometimes buying Christmas foods too early isn’t the best decision. Unless you have great willpower, you may feel inclined to tuck in before the big day. Organising a shopping delivery a couple of days before Christmas will mean you’re still prepared in advance, while not being tempted to start tucking into indulgent treats in early December.” – Kim 

Know How To Build Your Plate

“Apply some portion control over the festive season by using the T-plate model. Start by filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables – this can include Brussels sprouts, carrots and peas – and one quarter with carbs (such as two halves of roast potatoes) and the other quarter with protein, such as turkey. To further control portion sizes, you could try setting food in the middle of the table, allowing people to help themselves as they go. By serving yourself, you’ll be in control of what’s on your plate without others overfeeding you.” – Louise Bula, specialist dietitian

Downsize Festive Treats

“It’s so simple, but consider buying mini mince pies instead of regular ones. An average mince pie has roughly 289 calories whereas a mini mince pie has approximately 82 calories. So, by swapping to a mini version you can save yourself 207 calories whilst still enjoying the flavour.” – Louise 

Don’t Stress

“Go into Christmas with the mentality that you are going to enjoy yourself, try a bit of everything in moderation and relax. There will be plenty of time to get back on track. Remember significant weight gain – i.e. actual fat gain – doesn’t happen overnight or in a week. If you gain a few pounds, chances are once you get back to your routine, your weight will naturally fall back to where it was before.” – Louise 

Take Digestive Enzymes

“There are lots of supplements available to support digestion and ease bloating. I rate Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra, a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme designed to help the body digest protein, carbohydrate, fat, fibre and dairy. It can be helpful when eating bigger or heavier meals. Optibac’s One Week Flat Probiotics are also worth a try.” – Kim 

Drink Wisely

“Dry champagne is one of the lowest sugar alcoholic drinks, as is dry white wine, which should contain less than 5g of sugar per litre, equating to less than a teaspoon per bottle. Quality white spirits like gin and vodka are also good options.” – Kim 

Stand Your Ground

“Don’t be afraid to say ‘no, thank you’ to the relative offering you another mince pie. Remember you don’t have to explain yourself. If it isn’t enough to stop the offers coming your way, tell your family that you are genuinely full and have had enough, or that you’ll wait for dinner.” – Gabriela 

Try A Stir-Fry

“If you have lots of leftover turkey, get creative and try a stir-fry. A bag of mixed stir-fry vegetables is the easiest option unless you have lots of leftover veg, too – mix in a wok with sliced turkey, a dash of soy sauce, five spice and some chilli flakes. I’ll add some rice vermicelli noodles for the kids.” – Gabriela 

Brew A Tea

“If you can get your hands on fresh mint, make a cup after dinner – this will really help with digestion and keeps your hands out of the cookie jar. Consider having a ginger tea before bed, too – grated fresh ginger and a squeeze of lemon is best. This can help with the later stages of digestion and make sure you’re adequately hydrated before bed after the festive tipples.” – Gabriela 
 
For more information visit GPNutrition.com, Kim-Pearson.com and follow Louise on Instagram @DietitianInEdinburgh
 
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.
 

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