Tips to avoid over-eating at Christmas
The entire team at begoodtoyourgut wish you a Healthy Christmas and a Happier New Year!
OK – granted – Christmas is not traditionally the healthiest time of year. Alright alright, it’s the complete opposite of that…
“Go on, have that [INSERT ANYTHING SUGARY, CALORIFIC OR ALCOHOLIC] – it’s Christmas!”
Food, of course, is one aspect (if not the best aspect) about Christmas. My family’s having a turkey AND a goose this year. We’ve been talking about it for over a month already…we’ve got a freakin’ WhatsApp group about it. And, to be honest, I’m a lad with a big appetite – and I’m going to absolutely fill my boots on the 25th!
However, there seems to be a fine line between enjoying some great food, some treats and some tipple with your loved ones, and blind gluttony and debauchery. In the past, for example, I’ve eaten probably 100s of mince pies. I don’t even particularly like mince pies! I now try to keep my head on a little bit, and actually think a little before I start mindless shovelling.
With many people attending several Christmas events and parties nowadays, it can turn into a month-long assault on your health and precious liver in particular – with January now the “health kick” month (is it any surprise?). I don’t need to tell you that moderation at both ends is better for you. You don’t have to behave like you’re on an extended stag/hen-do, and then suddenly turn into a monk/nun on NY’s day…
Like it or not Christmas is big business, and some companies now seemingly dictate traditions. People debate whether or not Santa Claus was green before Coke made him red. Some wait for the Coke ad or John Lewis/supermarket ads to feel Christmassy. Certain things seem synonymous with Christmas now, and nobody seems to really question this blatant commercialisation of what is essentially a religious and family celebration.
Personally, the one that really makes me laugh is the perfume “stocking-filler” race – some of the ads are just really ambiguous and some may not even make sense! Check out the new Johnny Depp one – LOL.
With this commercial onslaught, things like snacks and confectionary have crept in the back door and joined the party. When was it the tradition to “trough” a square metre box of chocolates? If you receive a gift like this, surely it’s sensible to hide it away for a bit until you next actually deserve a treat in the new year?
By all means enjoy, relax and also treat yourself. But your health is worth consideration all year round. If you get less carried away, there’s less for you to put right in January. Try a few tricks..here are ten top tips:
- Serve yourself a sensible portion. I will generally eat whatever that are put in front of me. You can always go back for more LATER.
- Eat the healthy things FIRST: embrace the idea of a fish/seafood/fruit starter; fill your plate (and yourself) with healthier veg first – you know that 7 roast potatoes covered in bread sauce and gravy isn’t healthy. Also, try substituting needless snacks like crisps for crudités. Or even (god forbid) substitute lower-fat sweet potatoes for roast potatoes.
- It’s the one time of the year when people go for turkey (in the UK at least). Do your research and cook it well so it’s not dry as dust. And plump for this over stuffing or pigs in blankets (processed meat and high in saturated fat). Turkey – avoid skin if you can, with white meat leaner than dark – is a great source of lean protein. Being a gym bunny, I have the breast meat all-year round. Also a great source of zinc, selenium and vitamin B6.
- Whole nuts (not salted peanuts/cashews…or peanut M&Ms) are calorific so don’t go nuts (ahem); but they’re packed with protein, essential fats, fibre and fat-soluble vitamins.
Again, I have them all-year round.
- And satsumas: don’t leave these in your stocking with the nuts and eat the chocolate money – they’re miles healthier! Satsumas are low-calorie, high fibre and packed with vitamin C.
- Sprouts and cabbage. Yep, I’ve said it. Fun fact: EVEN MORE VITAMIN C THAN SATSUMAS (OR ORANGES). I absolutely love both and, honestly, always have (reputation can precede opinion, people!)…give them a shot: red cabbage braised with cinnamon is an easy win. Sprouts and pancetta: like seriously good (although less healthy), where did this rep come from!?
- Fish and seafood: A LOT of continental Europeans have seafood (not turkey) for Christmas. Brexit happened (yes, it actually really actually really actually happened – really and actually), but we’re still European! Generally healthier options, high in protein and, with something like salmon, high in omega 3 fats – near impossible to get in your diet intake otherwise.
- Burn off those calories – taking some exercise will help to balance the Christmas Effect. A half an hour to a hours walk a day will do wonders and can be a good escape from the chaos as well!
- Drink a sugar-free soft drink to stem the flow of what might be a plethora of drinks you never normally touch – Cointreau and Sherry seem to creep up on me once a year (what’s that all about!?).
- Wait for the party to come to you. It is the party season, you don’t need to go looking for it – save that bottle of whisky (substitute wine, prosecco..) you got in your stocking for some time in the new year.
Do you have any healthy tips or family traditions? Or maybe you have an unhealthy pet-hate you want to rid from Christmas? Let us know by commenting below!
This blog is written by a student dietitian Ed Turner, with scientific and medical detail reviewed by a Registered Dietitian and a Consultant Gastroenterologist.