Christmas can be a difficult time of year when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, managing your waistline and maintaining a fitness regimen. With the holidays fast approaching and inevitable family feasts looming large, here is a list of ways you can continue to enjoy your favourite, traditional Christmas delicacies while getting the most nutritional value and minimal calories from each.
1. Stuffing: Make with whole-wheat bread and cook separate to the meat so it doesn’t soak up any fats during cooking. Add onions and celery simmered in vegetable stock plus sage and spices for flavour.
2. Baked Potatoes: Sweet mashed potatoes or baked parsnips are a great alternative to a regular baked potato. If you find yourself limited to a baked potato, try topping it with yogurt or low fat cream cheese rather than butter.
3. Gravy: Instead of gravy mix or canned gravy, use natural gravy from pan drippings. Let the pan drippings stand so the fat rises to the top and can be discarded. Thicken with whole wheat flour and cook to your liking, finally add seasoning with pepper and sea salt for flavour.
4. Ham or Roast Beef: You want to avoid red meats and go for fresh seafood, grilled chicken or a traditional Turkey. Try to stick with the dark turkey meat as it contains more vitamins, less calories, has more of the “healthy fats”, and is also higher in protein.
5. Cakes and Pastries: While high in calories and trans fat, try replacing these appetizers/snacks with fresh fruit trays, salads or vegetable platters.
6. Chips and Dip: Bake whole wheat pita bread and cut into pita chips to replace regular potato chips and instead of high caloric dips or melted cheeses, stick with a low sodium salsa.
7. Corn: Keep veggies as close to raw as possible and do not overcook them. Avoid corn as it contains no nutritional value and is often linked to butter. Stick with spinach, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and peas.
8. Eggnog: Water is always a good choice. It fills you up, has no calories and helps to flush out your system. Avoid soft drinks and go for real sugar-free, fruit juices. Stay far away from calorie rich Eggnog and enjoy a cup of partially skimmed 1% chocolate milk. If you fall victim to alcohol temptation, stick to a single glass of red wine.
9. Cranberry Sauce: Apple sauce is a great alternative but if you must stick with tradition, go with a homemade, whole-berry cranberry sauce as opposed to the canned stuff.
10. Ice Cream: A healthier choice to ice cream would be low-fat yogurt or frozen yogurt. Top with fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries for additional flavour and nutrients.
When it comes to the gift of giving, it’s not about how much you spend but the thought that counts. Let this apply to your eating habits this Christmas as well. Spend less time indulging on the bad foods and put a little more thought into preparing healthy alternatives for you and your loved ones. A healthy body is the gift that keeps on giving.