You don't have to put weight on over Christmas. There, we said it. Of course, there are more temptations around at this time of year but with a bit of careful planning and preparation, you can eat healthily and still enjoy yourself.
So how do you get through the festive season without ending up with junk in the trunk? Take on board these tips from our nutrition experts and you'll soon be able to put snack-pushers in their place and pace the endless partying. Listen carefully…
Rejoice in the festive choice
When it comes to festive fare, there's so much choice. It’s easy to enjoy the scrummy treats on offer whilst keeping a healthy balance. It’s simply a matter of surveying the options and having more of what's good and less of what's bad. If you've been looking forward to Christmas pudding all year, then by all means, tuck in. But try skipping the ordinary stuff like bread rolls - you have access to them all year.
Have a merry breakfast
Start the day right by having breakfast on Christmas Day. Porridge, low-fat yoghurt and fruit are all good choices. You can even throw in a few dried festive fruits such as figs, cranberries and dates. Or whip up some posh nosh by adding smoked salmon to scrambled eggs, on a slice of wholemeal toast. Try a festive fruit juice cocktail by mixing cranberry and orange juice, with a hint of cinnamon. By filling up on breakfast, you won’t be starving by the time the Christmas meal is laid on and you’ll be less likely to binge on all the wrong foods.
Porridge, low-fat yoghurt and fruit are all good choices for breakfast.
Tuck into the Turkey
Turkey is an excellent choice of lean protein but go easy on the sausage stuffing and avoid the skin, which is usually high in fat. It's interesting to note that turkey became a Christmas tradition since the 19th century, when it gradually began to replace goose as the Christmas meal. That's good news for our waistlines because turkey contains more protein and much less fat than goose or duck.
Aim for your five a day
Many people will eat more fruit and veg on Christmas day than on any other day of the year. Make full use of the variety on offer by filling your plate with as many different colours as you can. That way, you'll be well on your way to reaching your target of five different fruits or vegetables a day, plus you'll fill up on stuff that’s nutritious, low in fat and high in fibre.
Choose salsa over creamy dips that are laden with calories. You could go for a selection of dips made with yoghurt and cucumber, avocado and tomato, or puréed sweet peppers. Snack on olives rather than crisps, and fruit rather than biscuits. If there are nuts on offer, opt for the ones with no coatings or flavourings. A mince pie on Christmas day is no biggie, but ten mince pies is a tad extreme!
Stick to the 'one day' rule
Enjoying a lovely meal with family or friends on Christmas Day is what celebrating is all about. Ok, add another day for a festive occasion such as the office party. One or two days of hearty indulgence won't spell disaster, but a month of festive feeding certainly won’t do your health and sense of well-being any favours.
Make mine a spritzer!
Alcohol is bound to be the biggest pitfall of all over Christmas. For starters, there's the office party. You can save on calories - and avoid ending the evening by kissing your boss - by opting for lighter choices. White wine spritzers, or gin and slim-line tonic are good ideas. Alternatively, you can alternate your drink of choice with a non-alcoholic beverage - a glass of chilled sparkling water is ideal.
Avoid that seam-bursting, uncomfortably full feeling by eating slowly throughout the day. And if you feel full, try to resist the temptation to stuff in some more. Faced with a Christmas buffet, limit the pig-out by having one plate of what you fancy, and don’t be tempted to go for seconds or carry on eating just for the sake of it.
Love the low-fat leftovers
Instead of turning leftover turkey into a turkey curry (which is usually high in fat) or adding heaps of mayo to make turkey sandwiches, why not tuck into a healthy low-fat meal on Boxing Day? Try a warm winter soup with turkey, vegetables and noodles. Or add strips of leftover turkey to a crunchy salad. You could also wrap turkey meat and cheese in wholemeal pancakes and bake them in the oven. Delicious!