For many Christmas means fun and excitement while for others it is a time of stress around buying gifts, providing food, the cost of it all and the inevitable weight gain from too much eating and drinking. Enjoying Christmas has become a challenge – to relax and have fun without coming out the other side looking like an overfed turkey! But with a little planning it is possible to survive the silly season and be fitter, healthier and more relaxed when it’s all over. Here are our top tips to ensure Santa does not need to buy you a new belt for Christmas!

  • Keep it simple – there’s no need to have a turkey AND a ham or a roast. One type of meat or fish with a few flavoursome, interesting side dishes will make a simpler, more enjoyable – and less stressful – meal.
  • Enjoy seasonal fruit and vegetables – use them to bulk out desserts, salads and nibbles platters. Salads with bread and leftover cold meats make ideal lunches or evening meals.
  • Have a small quantity of meat and then fill your plate with vegetables and salads. Cook your roast vegetables separately from the meat – a light brush with oil or an oil spray is all they need to become crisp and delicious. Garlic and rosemary tossed through before cooking boosts flavour and appeal.
  • Buy lean meats and trim off any fat before cooking and eating. Remove skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Skim off the fat from meat juices before you make gravy; cooling the juices first helps or use a gravy powder as a base and use the water you have cooked the vegetables in (like pea water) as the liquid. A little brandy, cranberry, mustard, mint jelly or redcurrant sauce will give extra zing.
  • Try custard or brandy custard and low-fat ice cream with Christmas pudding rather than brandy butter and rich creamsand ice creams. Have ice cream OR cream, not both. Sorbets, Greek yoghurt and frozen yoghurt are good alternatives.
  • Stock up on healthier food items and treats. Shortbread, for example, is laden with fat while biscotti have very little.
  • Choose crackers wisely: the fat content can vary hugely. Water crackers and crispbreads are lower-fat options.
  • Make Christmas mince pies with filo pastry instead of traditional high-fat shortcrust, flaky or puff pastry. If using shortcrust, use a very thin layer only and leave the pies open. Check the label of the fruit mince and choose one without suet (pure fat).
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or diet soft drinks – this way you keep hydrated and are less likely to drink too much.
  • Avoid over-eating at Christmas parties by eating something healthy before you go. This way you are less likely to be tempted by the rich cheeses, savouries and chips – foods that are easy to over-consume when you are hungry and drinking alcohol.
  • If you are providing the platters for parties, include plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Use mashed avocado, hummus, extra-light cream cheese, mustards and relishes as spreads on bread instead of butter or high-fat spreads.
  • Try chocolate-dipped strawberries or cherries as an alternative to chocolate – you get all the enjoyment of chocolate in a much healthier package.
  • Sit down to eat and eat your food slowly – it takes time for the brain to register fullness.
  • Enjoy exercise – a walk, swim or game of tennis will do wonders for the body and soul.
  • Wake yourself up by playing with the children or organising a social game of cricket, croquet or rounders.
  • Above all, do NOT feel guilty about having treats on Christmas Day. It is only one day and you can always make up for it by having lighter meals on Boxing Day.

Article sourced from The Australian Healthy Food Guide. Click here for full article or for more information.