Make Your Christmas Meal Healthier

Make Your Christmas Meal Healthier

We’ve all heard the statistics about how many extra calories the average person eats on Christmas Day. As runners, we’re keen to avoid excess stodge which leaves us feeling lethargic. Whilst it’s undoubtedly the snacks, nibbles and treats which stack up the calories (more than the main meal itself), traditional Christmas dinner is still a potential nutritional menace.  

But it really needn’t be the case. Christmas dinner is based around very healthy ingredients: lean protein (turkey), unprocessed carbohydrates (potatoes) and plenty of fresh, seasonal, British vegetables. There’s even a serving of anti-oxidant rich berries in there too! It’s just a shame that they’re cooked with sugar and boiled to a pulp.  We looked at simple, tasty and easy ways to make small changes to your Christmas meal so you save on calories but don’t lose flavour.  

Fill up on vegetables

Fill most of your plate with steamed or roasted vegetables, leaving less room for the unhealthier aspects of the meal (we’re looking at you, stuffing, bread sauce, gravy, pigs-in-blankets and roast potatoes). 

Don’t drown your food

Those innocent pours and spoonfuls of gravy, cranberry sauce and other condiments are the enemy of good nutrition. Unless you really love them, we suggest going without (who really likes bread sauce, anyway?) And if you do decide to go for it, try having just a taste. 

Cut the extra carbs

There’s nothing wrong with carbohydrates but Christmas Day is one day of the year where we eat them in excess. Try not to overload on potatoes, starchy vegetables (parsnips, swede, squash) and side helpings of bread and butter. We’re willing to bet you won’t notice their absence. 

Watch your sugar intake

Sugar is another nutritional no-no. It’s almost impossible to avoid it at Christmas, but just be aware of where sugar is lurking, and minimise or avoid servings of those items. Typical suspects include cranberry sauce and chutneys. 

Enjoy fat, just not too much of it

We all need fat in our diet but Christmas Day gives it to us in abundance. Make your own gravy, so you can control the amount of fat (and skim or strain some off). Don’t leave potatoes sitting in extra fat: drain it off so the taste and crunch remains. And consider putting less butter on vegetables, cream on puddings and cheese on your plate.  

Eat what’s on your plate…

… and only what’s on your plate. In other words, resist the temptation to nibble whilst food is being prepared or served up, or whilst it’s on the table waiting for the family to get seated. If you want to eat something, put it on your plate first. Portion control is key. 

Do you really need seconds?

Take a few seconds to think before you go back for more. You’ve already tasted the food and enjoyed the sensation of eating it. What will you really gain from eating the same thing all over again?  Eating on Christmas Day can be a hugely enjoyable experience, or a rather uncomfortable one. Aim to feel satisfied, but not stuffed, and you’ll be able to enjoy the day so much more.

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