So Christmas is well and truly upon us and with it comes plenty of lovely food, drinks and nights out catching up with friends and family. Let's not forget the hard work that we've put in all year with many of us working out and carefully watching our food.
It's of course a time to celebrate and as a foodie I do like to enjoy my treats too. So the good news is that it's possible to enjoy all the fabulous things that Christmas has to offer without going into the new year with regrets over eating too many minced pies. I'm a firm believer in everything in moderation but also opting for healthier alternatives when possible.
To help you through here is a guide on Healthy Eating for the Christmas Holidays
1. Eating out at Christmas
When eating out at Christmas it's always a good idea to research the restaurant's menu in advance, this is particularly helpful if you have specific dietary preferences such as intolerances or allergies (this way you can phone ahead and organise a special meal if required).
Researching the menu will also give you an idea of what they have to offer if your watching those calories, in which case it may be an idea to have a small low calorie snack before heading out so we don't over eat rich restaurant food. It's best to avoid the temptation of additional breads and the hidden calories in sauces which accompany many meals.
2. Watch the Drinks
There's no doubt we'll be indulging in a few drinks over the Christmas holidays, however it's often easy to underestimate liquid calories and it all adds up. A hot chocolate with cream and syrup could provide as much as 400 calories, whilst a healthier alternative may be a hot chocolate with non fat milk without the cream and extras with almost half the amount of calories.
Alcohol can also quickly add to our energy intake and it's easy consume our daily energy requirement in a few drinks. For instance a shared bottle of wine could contribute to around 340 calories each, 2 gin and tonics provide around 150 calories, 2 rum and cokes almost 170 calories, whilst 4% ABV pint of lager can contain approximately 180 calories, which drinkaware.ie describe as being similar to that of a large slice of pizza!
You can check out my Christmas Party Recovery Tips here
3. Watch the Portion Sizes
Us Irish are renowned for our HUGE portion sizes with our eyes often bigger than our bellies. With Christmas dinner probably being our biggest feast of the year we can often get a little carried away with trying to not only stuff the turkey but ourselves too.
It is possible to enjoy our lovely Christmas meal without rolling out of our seats afterward by simply watching our portion sizes. So a portion of protein i.e. turkey and/or ham should be the size of the palm of our hand or a deck of cards. A portion of vegetables the size of our fist (we can have 2 portions of these) and a portion of potatoes (can't forget the spuds) are again the size of our fist or a lightbulb.
4. Slow down
This comes to both food and drink. It's a better idea to pace ourselves with the bevies, alternating between water/soda in between each drink, that way you wont burn out and sleep through the festivities ;).
With food, again us Irish are famous for devouring our meals really quickly. If we manage to slow down we can avoid some of that overeating food coma feeling and give our bodies a chance to register that they're full. It should take 20 minutes to eat a meal so keep this in mind. We also often feel the need to devour all this lovely food in one sitting, but it's a great idea to spread out your courses and allow ourselves to savour each dish, especially after all of the effort put into them.
As tempting as it is to roll around the living room with a glass of mulled wine feeling like you have a food baby, getting out for a post dinner walk helps to aid your digestion, burn a few calories and hey you may get an appetite for more food afterwards.
Most importantly, make sure and take time to enjoy yourself.
As they say
"Good Food and Good Company are Amongst Life's Simplest Yet Greatest Pleasures"
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy Christmas,
Laurann has an Honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham, a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin, is an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London, a professional member of the Celiac Society Ireland, is registered with the Institute of Public Health Ireland and fully insured.