With all the festive food around, Christmas can be a stressful time for anyone trying to lose or maintain their weight. But many of the foods we associate with Christmas are actually quite healthy and rich in vitamins and minerals. Christmas dinner in fact can be one of the most balanced meals you’ll eat over the festive season……..
Smoked salmon - ideal as a starter. Salmon is high in protein and heart healthy omega-3 fats.
Roast turkey - high in protein and B vitamins, and low in saturated fat. Most of the fat is stored in the skin, so remove the skin and you cut down on fat and calories.
Potatoes - an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. If roasting, use olive or rapeseed oil instead of butter to reduce the saturated fat and cut into large chunks, as these absorb less fat than small ones.
Carrots - carrots are among the richest source of beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into the antioxidant vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, normal vision and for your immune system.
Brussels Sprouts - the quintessential Christmas dinner veg and rich in vitamin C and folate. As long as your veg are not covered in butter they are all low in calories and fat and contribute to the five portions of fruit and vegetables you need every day, even Christmas Day!
Chestnuts - chestnuts are the shiny brown nuts you see in the shops at the minute and are the only low fat nut around. 10 chestnuts have 170 calories and 2.7g of fat. They are often added to stuffing or used in nut loafs. Before cooking make a small incision in the skin to allow the steam to escape, otherwise you’ll have a house full of chestnut shells when they explode.
So Christmas dinner itself isn’t the main culprit for Christmas weight gain; it’s usually all the little extras and how much we eat that piles on the calories. Depriving yourself of all festive foods or feeling guilty when you do enjoy them isn’t part of healthy eating. If you do indulge now and again, make a conscious effort to make healthier choices at other times of the day, and include more exercise to burn off any extra calories you take on board.
* Eimear Walsh is a Qualified Dietitian from Malin, Donegal, currently working in Medfit Proactive Healthcare, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet @eims_walsh
BSc. Nutrition and Dietetics, PgCert. Sport and Exercise Nutrition, FODMAP Trained, M.I.N.D.I.