Turkey, roast potatoes, sausages wrapped in bacon, christmas cookies, and more... Christmas lunch is and feels like the ultimate indulgence. But, it's a tradition, and for that reason, any attempts to decrease calories can definitely feel "unfestive."
This week, we're wrapping up (hehe no pun intended) several tips and tricks from some of the UK's most informed nutrition and health experts.
- Focus on a festive breakfast - a lot of people (incorrectly) assume that skipping breakfast will help save calories... but the British Nutrition Foundation still advises eating a healthy breakfast to kick-start your metabolism.
- Avoid fatty cuts of the turkey - while Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein and B vitamins, avoid the fattier cuts like the wings and legs... and try not to over-salt your meat ahead of cooking.
- Consider an alternative to Pigs in a Blanket - yes, it's the ultimate comfort food, but getting rid of the bacon blanket around the cocktail sausage instantly takes the calorie count down. If the plain cocktail sausage isn't festive enough for you, try whipping up a mustard dip (but steer clear of honey glaze). Otherwise, consider swapping the sausages for dates or prunes; dates are a great source of calcum, iron, potassium, and more!
- Replace (or mix) roast potatoes with other root vegetables - parsnips and carrots are a great source of fibre, so the British Nutrition Foundation recommends a mix of both roasted potatoes and root vegetables. PRO TIP: leave the skins on to boost fibre intake.
- Opt for healthy sides - for example, brussel sprouts. You can roast them with other ingredients like chestnuts and nutmeg, or hazelnuts and orange for a more festive feel.
- Go easy on the gravy - sadly, pre-packaged gravy and gravy granules contain extremely high levels of salt and saturated fat. Try a hand at making your own, but remember to skim all the fat from meat and poultry juices, or use cooking water from the vegetables for additional vitamins. The best advice - per the British Nutrition Foundation - is "less is more."
- Reuse your leftovers - after all the turkey and stuffing have been devoured, chances are that only carrots and broccoli are left. Instead of chucking them in the bin, add a splash of milk to create a delicious winter soup.
- Watch your portion size - if you don't want to cut out desserts or other festive snacks entirely, dieticians have the easiest health hack of all: simply eat less. Try everything, but try less of each dish. The general recommendation here is to "stick to fist-size portions of carbs, and palm-size portions of proteins. Make up the rest with veg and you will feel great all the way through.” (British Health Foundation)
Wherever you're celebrating, and whatever you're eating... we want to remind you that Christmas is about being present and enjoying time with friends & family! Don't fret or overthink too much; and if you're feeling discouraged, remember that one day of a bit of overindulgence isn't going to make a dent in months of dedicated gym time. Enjoy yourself!