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mugs of mulled wine with orange segments, cinnamon and star anise

Smart Food Choices for the Festive Period

December 14, 2016

When it comes to Christmas time, it can be hard not to overindulge. There's temptation at every corner from tins of Roses by the sofa to a fridge full of yummy goodies. But if you are trying to be good, how can you navigate all the temptations? Here's how you can make smart food choices for the festive period and enjoy the holidays without too much guilt.

Smart Food Choices for the Festive Period

The holiday season is full of get togethers and endless opportunities to eat - from work night's out to dinners with friends. So if you're trying to watch what you eat or stick to a healthy diet, Christmas can be torture. The key is to enjoy the festive period and all the delicious food that comes with it, but in moderation.

When it comes to smart food choices for the festive season, we're all about enjoy home cooking and not overdoing the processed food. Here are some ways to eat healthier during the holiday season.

Christmas Cake or Pudding

The key to better Christmas eating is to avoid processed food and indulge in some home cooking and baking. Many Christmas recipes revolve around nutrient packed fruit and nuts - these are high calorie items but also full of goodness. Consider alternative sweeteners such as agave syrup or honey and avoid adding (or eating) excessive icing which is mostly just sugar. So as long as you keep an eye on the size of the slice, you can have your Christmas cake and eat it!

Cinnamon, Ginger, Oranges

The Christmas spices fill the house with that magical aroma and can pack a punch also where hidden health benefits are considered. There is research to suggest beneficial effects of cinnamon on blood glucose. Ginger is known to fight nausea - along with mint tea, this could come in useful when you've overindulged. If all the mingling at Christmas gatherings leaves you prone to catching a cold, loading up on vitamin C at the first sneeze may help reduce the time it takes for you to recover.

Mulled Wine

Research has shown a small glass of red wine a day can be beneficial for heart health. It is very important to remember our weekly alcohol unit limits and the hidden calories these drinks contain. However, filled with all those good Christmas spices a warming glass of mulled wine may be just the thing to enjoy at your next party.

Turkey

Turkey is a lean meat, choose the best quality you can afford (free range is fantastic). The brown meat is even more nutritious than the white. As always just keep an eye on the portion size and remember go easy on the gravy boat, the added calories are all in the sauces, gravy etc.

Vegetables

Load up with antioxidant and fibre packed vegetables like brussels sprouts, red cabbage, carrots - each different bright colour signifying different vitamins. Experiment with recipes - add a squeeze of citrus in the cooking or scatter almonds on the sprouts. With all that natural goodness you can even enjoy a little butter on top!

Tips to Help You Eat Well This Christmas

And while we all aim to be good at Christmas, remember it is a winter feast and celebration to be enjoyed, so when you succumb to temptation here are a few tips that can allow you enjoy your indulgences guilt free.

1. The less processed food you eat, the lower in sugar, salt and saturated fats your intake is likely to be. Homemade is always best.

2. Forgo the fry (for the third morning in a row) and eat a healthy breakfast. Why not give oatmeal with festive fruit compote or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, brown bread and freshly squeezed juice a try. These vitamin, fibre and protein packed options are still luxurious and will fill you up for longer. A good way to cancel out those few ‘Quality Street’ that temptation cannot avoid later in the day.

3. Avoid mindless eating in front of the TV. Instead enjoy Christmas fare as it should be - in company, over cups of tea or sitting at a festive table to share.

4. Use a smaller plate.

5. Watch your alcohol intake.

6. Exercise - the best cure of all. This will lift body and spirit, ease tensions, help digestion and make room for an extra mince pie or two.

We hope you enjoy Christmas and remember to make smart food choices for the festive season where possible. Your body will thank you for it!

Looking to give your digestive system a helping hand? Here's how to pick the right digestive enzyme for you.

Checked and updated: 3 August 2021

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