If you’re worrying about how you’ll manage yourself around food over the holidays, you’re certainly not alone. Of all points in the calendar year, we are on the verge of the most notorious stretch for eating, drinking, and all-round celebrating. However, with so much food and drink at our leisure this over-indulging can cause many of us to set aside our healthy eating habits and exercise routines built beforehand. Also, busy schedules this time of year often put our well-being at the bottom of the priority list.
But don’t fret! We chatted with our experts on how to avoid the end-of-year weight increase and its subsequent January blues this Christmas. Simply add some helpful ingredients to your menu without compromising on your favourites! Take a look at the experts’ advice below.
Swap regular potatoes for Sweet potatoes, as they are full of water and protein that keep you feeling full for longer. Its fibre stops fat from being absorbed, gives energy and clears toxins from the body by boosting bowl movement. Simply “oven roast them with red onion, salt and pepper and they will be a great add on to Brussels sprouts turnips and parsnips” says Michela Vagnini Nutritionist at Natures Plus.
She adds “just oven roast them with red onion, salt, pepper and they will be a great add on. For cooking choose olive oil or coconut oil a they are healthier and more heat stable”. Exchanging regular potatoes for sweet potato and saturated oils for non-saturates will allow you to maintain better internal health.
A rich, heavy, meat-tasting gravy is an every table must-have at Christmas but all the burned meat and animal fat does not support a healthy diet. Don’t worry though because “you can make a lovely healthy gravy by using a fresh home made chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you are vegan), add mushrooms, onion, cloves and port wine or sherry if you like an extra zing to your sauce. Avoid stock cubes and ready-made stocks as they are usually rich in salt and flavourings” explains Michela Vagnini. She also recommends adding “different sauces like fresh basil pesto, sugar free cranberry sauce or extra virgin olive oil with parsley and garlic” to enhance flavor.
Lean Xmas Pudding
The rum/brandy here can be hard to digest especially after a heavy Christmas meal and the candied peels, fruit and butter used make it full of waist-expanding sugars. Try making your own instead and “don’t add any sugar as the one from dried currants and raisins would be enough, instead of candied peels use zest and fresh orange/lemon juice, swap butter/lard for coconut butter. For brandy sauce use a good organic natural or coconut/almond yogurt. You could also make a healthy sauce with a mix of citrus juice, rum or brandy, date syrup and coconut oil” says Michela Vagnini.
Cinnamon your cravings
If you have a sweet tooth and struggle with cutting out sugar this could be the solution for you. “Cinnamon is one of nature’s most revitalising herbs. Filled with potent antioxidants – more than almost all other spices and herbs – it may help to reduce signs of ageing, boost metabolism as well as aid digestion, gently warming your stomach, supporting the breakdown of your food more efficiently.” Explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of Fat Around The Middle. As this spice brings sweetness you can skip adding sugar to food, meaning no excess calories and no extra weight gain.
Some frozen fun
If the bitter cold doesn’t seem to put you off then try homemade waist-friendly ice-creams/popsicles. Nutritionist Lily Soutter advises to simply “whiz together protein rich yogurt, low sugar berries and insulin sensitising cinnamon to make a no.1 dessert for balancing blood sugar. By stepping off the blood sugar roller coaster, you may minimise weight gain and further cravings for sugary indulgences”.
If you don’t have the time to make your own she recommends Oppo ice-cream available in some retailers because its a “healthy alternative that is surprisingly indulgent, while having 50-70% fewer calories in comparison to regular ice cream”.
Don’t cancel desserts
Nutritionist Lily Soutter states, “some weight-loss friendly deserts (such as Skinny Avocado Chocolate Mousse, and Baked Pears with Walnuts and Cinnamon) can satisfy any sweet tooth”.
How to make? Simply “blend 1 ripe avocado and banana, 4tbsp cacao, 3tbsp coconut oil and 100ml of almond milk into small pots/glasses, set in fridge and top with raspberries” for a decadent Avocado mousse. “Avocado is the secret to the desserts rich and velvety texture. They are bursting with nutrients and there is also evidence to show that they may support weight loss.”
“Slice a pear in half, scoop out seeds, sprinkle with cinnamon and crushed walnuts and place in oven (170 degrees celcius) for 30mins” – serve with yoghurt if you wish. “This is a perfect low calorie dessert for when you’re craving something comforting and warming. The walnuts give a tasty crunch whilst providing a good dose of protein and fibre.”
Enjoy a drink…but choose wisely
“Cocktails and beer are the most likely culprits for weight gain due to their high calorie content. For a lower calorie beverage try a clear spirit (vodka/gin) with a no sugar mixer (sparkling water) and a squeeze of lemon or lime. With only 70-90 calories per glass and zero sugar, this is a top choice for those aiming for balance” advises Lily. “Red wine is also good because it promots healthy, inflammatory responses in our body that delay premature aging” says Michela Vagnini.