Eat, Drink and be Merry Merry Healthy!

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Eat, Drink and be Merry Merry Healthy!

by Bespoke Wellness –


Festive season is almost upon us, its official! Christmas is a perfect time to relax, unwind and enjoy with family and friends. As far as food and drink are concerned, there is no reason to feel guilty about enjoying yourself at Christmas but it is worth remembering that, on average, people tend to gain about 2 kg over the festive period.  But Christmas doesn’t have to be all about overindulgence and unhealthy food choices. Here I share my favourite tips on how to stay in tip-top shape and avoid piling on kilos over the festive period.

  1. Start your day with a healthy filling breakfast

Research shows that protein based breakfast will keep you fuller for longer. Try scrambled boiled or poached eggs with smoked salmon or add beans and mushrooms for that extra protein and nutrients. Adding tomatoes and spinach will also help you to meet the recommended 5 a day portions of fruit and veg.  For sustained energy release you can also chose oats and wholegrains which will fill you up for longer as they take more time to digest by the body due to high fibre content. This way you will be less likely to be snacking throughout the morning.

  1. Know your nibbles!

More often than not, it’s the festive between meal nibbles that pile on the kilos rather than meals themselves. Gaining half a kilo of fat is as easy as eating around 70 chocolates from a selection box – that might sound a lot, but a couple of handfuls every day soon adds up. Don’t be tempted to stock up on too many festive foods before Christmas starts – you’ll simply start eating them earlier and then buy more.

Instead of crisps and nachos serve vegetable crudités (carrot, cucumber, celery sticks), pretzels or breadsticks. Experiment with making your own low-fat dips with reduced-fat crème fraiche, low-fat natural yoghurt or fat-free fromage frais. Season the dips with lemon juice, black pepper, fresh herbs and spices.

For a low-calorie seasonal snack, choose a satsuma or tangerine rather than a slice of Christmas cake or mince pie. Both these fruits are packed with vitamin C, are virtually fat free and contain just 20 calories each.

  1. Don’t break the calories bank with your Christmas lunch

All the extras during Christmas can quickly add up the calories and result in weight gain. Do not despair there are ways to reduce the calories in your meals and still enjoy delicious meals.

Turkey is naturally low in fat, with a 90 g of roasted turkey breast serving containing just 140 calories and 1.8 fat. But don’t be tempted to smother the turkey with oil or lard when you are cooking it. Remember just one tablespoon of oil contains 100 calories and 11 g fat! Brushing turkey lightly with oil instead of pouring it straight from the bottle is a good start. Before tucking into your meal, remove the skin from the turkey. This will reduce the fat content of the meal and drop those extra calories too.

Cut your potatoes into big chunks before roasting them:  this will reduce the amount of oil they absorb during cooking. Use olive or vegetable oil but remember to go easy on the oil.

Pile your plate high with seasonal vegetables. The more colours you have on a plate the greater the variety of nutrients. By steaming your vegetables rather than boiling them you will also retain more vitamins and minerals. Don’t serve your vegetables with butter as this will add more unnecessary calories.

If you can’t resist the Christmas pudding, just have a small portion. An average 100 g portion contains over 300 calories and 11 g fat.

Last but not least:  avoid the temptation to serve your meals on big plates.

  1. Use your Christmas lunch/dinner leftovers to create healthy meals the next day

One of the best tips I was given by my grandmother is to use your leftovers wisely and with a bit of planning. Don’t be tempted to create fatty, high-calorie meals such as bubble and squeak and coronation turkey with your turkey leftovers. Instead, make delicious low-calorie meals such as turkey soup, turkey curry with brown rice or simply serve with a jacket potato and salad. When it comes to the notorious turkey sandwich, make it healthier by using wholegrain bread spread with a little fat-free cranberry sauce rather than butter, choose breast rather than dark meat and pile on the salad and vegetables.

  1. Rethink your drink!

While plenty of booze will help social events go with a swing, it won’t do much to keep your waistline in shape and will leave you feeling sluggish and dehydrated. It’s fine to enjoy a drink – just remember to choose sensibly.

Enjoy some bubbly – sparking mineral water, that is, a perfect way to start off your evening. Decide your limit and stay within it. Better yet, be the designated driver and sip this bubbly all evening. This will save you on calories as a glass of champagne is usually around 100 calories and water is nil.

Try mixing white wine with soda water or diet lemonade to make it last twice as long and half the calorie. Load it with ice too! If you can’t bear to dilute it, opt for a dry white or red wine as these contain fewer calories than sweeter wines. If you go for spirits, mix with low-calorie mixers such as diet cola, diet lemonade, slimline tonic or slimline bitter lemon. Allow around 50 calories for a single (25ml) shot with a diet mixer.

Steer clear of beer, lager and cider as they’re loaded with calories. And the higher the alcohol content, the more calories they contain. For example, a pint of standard beer contains around 160 calories, whereas a bottle of strong lager can contain up to 200 calories alone. Watch out, too, for trendy new ciders served in a pint glass with ice. They contain more than 200 calories per pint.

Choose cocktails with care. As a guideline, avoid anything that’s made with cream, coconut milk or syrupy juices – they’re packed with calories. And remember that the more shots a cocktail contains, the higher its calorie value will be. Where possible, ask for diet mixers to be used and remember to sip slowly.


by Anna Pettit RD