Indulge without the bulge!

Food is one of the great pleasures of the holiday season. And the good news is that any food, even traditional Christmas food, can be enjoyed, as long as we remember the words ‘balance’ and ‘moderation’. We all want to enjoy our Christmas break, but you may be wondering how on earth to avoid piling on the pounds.

• Eat high fibre foods for breakfast, such as prunes and probiotic natural yoghurt, to aid gastrointestinal transit!

• Eat less for lunch on days that you know are going to involve big evening events but don’t skip lunch altogether.

• Slow down and eat at a more relaxed pace, especially at the dinner table. Stock your dinner plate with lots of veg (half the plate). Enjoy a little of everything rather than too much of any one thing. Down size, don’t Super Size!

Christmas dinner just wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without the traditional turkey, ham and the trimmings. But you might be better choosing more mash and veggies than roast potatoes over the holidays if you want to keep that six pack you’ve been working on!

Christmas Fare – the Good...

Turkey: A good source of protein, zinc, selenium & B vitamins. Much less fat than duck or goose! Don’t eat the skin!

Sprouts: A good source of fibre, vitamin C & folate.

Cranberry Sauce: A good source of antioxidants so can help boost immunity.

Red Wine: A glass of red wine a day is good for the heart.

Christmas Fare – the Bad...

Stuffing: Laden with poor quality sausage meat, salt & lashings of butter. To make it healthier, use good quality sausage meat, less butter and some olive oil. Have a small portion and use plenty of herbs instead of salt.

Roast potatoes: Coated in goose fat, these are artery unfriendly! Try mashing potato with herbs and low fat milk or reduced fat crème fraiche instead.

Mince Pies & Cake: High in fat, sugar and calories, enjoy a mini mince pie to get your Christmas fix!

Christmas fare – the Ugly...

Brandy Butter: Not for the faint hearted! Have custard made with low-fat milk instead.

Super-sized Portions: Stop eating when you are comfortably full, not stuffed!

Mountains of Chocolate: Try some dark chocolate instead as it contains antioxidants and less sugar than milk chocolate.

Pudding & Punch:

Whether its Mince pies, Christmas pudding, Trifle with cream or fruity Christmas cake, we all like to indulge after our Christmas feast. Take your pick but try and refrain from seconds and third helpings! Both Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are packed with dried fruit which provides essential iron. Enjoy smaller portions of both pudding and cake if you are watching your waist line. Single cream is a good alternative to whipping cream and it contains half the fat of whipping cream. One average serving of single cream, 45g provides only 89 calories and 9g fat. Only use brandy butter sparingly. It’s certainly a tasty option but is pretty high in fat. Use low fat milk when you’re making custard for the plum pudding. It will taste just as good, but has less calories and fat.

You don't have to be tee-total over Christmas but try a few tricks to cut calories (and reduce your hangover, too). Drink water before going out, at your meal and at the end of the night. Go to the pub late or try and leave before the last man falls. You could just drive more nights to avoid any pressure to keep up. If you’re standing at the bar - swap a handful of roasted salted peanuts (180 calories) for a handful of olives (68 calories).

Finally, What to do with the leftovers?

If you are wondering what to make with your turkey leftovers, why not try this delicious risotto. It really is tasty, and you’ll really feel that you’ve indulged in a satisfying, filling, home-made meal without having to loosen your belt!

Turkey Risotto

Ingredients: 2 tbsps olive oil
1 small onion diced
120g (4oz) turkey breast, diced
Garlic to taste, chopped and crushed
150g (5oz) easy cook brown rice
2 chicken stock cubes in 1 litre of water
1 stick of celery, sliced
1 small red pepper, sliced
75g (3oz) frozen peas


  • Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and fry gently for 3 minutes.
  • Add the turkey and garlic and turn up the heat and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add rice, stock, celery, red pepper and bring to boil.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes with lid off.
  • Add more water and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • Add peas and cook for a further 10 minutes
  • Check rice is tender and serve.
  • Serve with a salad and freshly baked bread. Parmesan cheese can be added if desired, but remember this will increase the calorie and fat intake considerably.

Paula Mee 

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