How to stay in control with food at Christmas

How to stay in control with food at Christmas

The season of over-indulgence is here but rather than depriving yourself, the key is to make smart choices while enjoying yourself, says Patsy Westcott

Yay – it’s Christmas! Cue Bing Crosby crooning about chestnuts and Chris Rea on driving home, party dresses, twinkly decorations, carols, snow if we’re lucky (or unlucky depending on your view), and get-togethers with friends and family… many of which involve consuming our bodyweight in food and drink.

Hardly surprising we gain an average 1 to 5 lbs over the festive season.

Having fun, once in a while

But one thing I know having reached a CERTAIN age is that life’s too short to feel guilty about the occasional blow out. And I certainly don’t intend to go on a diet come New Year.

Instead I’m going to put a few strategies in place to ensure I eat healthily most of the time and balance any extra calories in with calories out by factoring in lots of long, winter walks and hitting the dance floor at every chance I get.

Here’s how to navigate some key Christmas danger zones to minimise the damage and maximise the fun:

Danger zone 1 – cocktail parties

Arriving ravenous is a sure-fire way to ensure we snaffle every passing canapé. Eating a healthy snack before setting out makes it easier to nibble delicately on one or two healthy choices. When you get there don’t dive into the food straight away – take time to check out what’s on offer and choose carefully. For example, faced with a sausage roll or a tail-on prawn, go for the seafood.

Danger zone 2 – girls’ night out at a restaurant

If possible download the menu beforehand so you can check out the healthiest choices. Then stick to your decision. Having a big glass of sparkling water when you first arrive helps avoid over-ordering. Say ‘no’ to prelims such as bread sticks, poppadoms or prawn crackers and when it comes to the main steer clear of those rich, creamy sauces and go for grills, stir-fries or steamed dishes.

Danger zone 3 – Christmas Eve snacks with the neighbours

If you’re the hostess, stock up on healthy snacks such as unsalted nuts, roast chestnuts and fresh fruits like satsumas. Making your own mince pies? Leave off the tops or use filo pastry, which is lower in calories – and garnish with half a strawberry or physalis.

Danger zone 4 – Christmas lunch

According to the British Dietetic Association many of us schlep through a whopping 6,000 calories on Christmas day alone.

Portion control is key so pick a small plate, leave the turkey skin on the side, load up the veg and stick to one or two small roasties plus a teaspoon of bread sauce made with skimmed milk rather than cream. Have just a sliver of Christmas pudding with a spoonful of yoghurt or crème fraiche rather than brandy butter. Alternatively treat yourself to a fabulous exotic fruit salad instead of pud. Chew thoroughly and put down your knife and fork between bites to slow down the eating.

Danger zone 5 – New Year’s Eve drinks party

Sip slowly and alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones such as soda water or a sparkling water with a few slices of cucumber, lemon or lime and a sprig of mint. Instead of mulled wine heat unsweetened apple or pear juice and add a stick of cinnamon, some cloves and a grating of nutmeg for all the flavour but far fewer calories.

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stay in control with food at c

Finika 27/12/2016

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