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How do you avoid the Christmas dietary pitfalls?

The Christmas season is fast approaching, and with it the endless canapés, buffet tables and three course meals, not to mention the booze.  If we’re not careful, Christmas dietary pitfalls can leave us piling on the extra pounds and creating havoc with our digestion.  Here are ten top tips to help you navigate your way around the Christmas menu, whilst still enjoying yourself:

  1. Never go to a party on an empty stomach.  You will not be able to make any sensible decisions about what and how much to eat when your stomach is rumbling and you’re being tempted by tantalising smells.  Therefore have a small snack with some protein before leaving the house, such as a boiled egg and rye toast, vegetable crudités and houmous or some yoghurt and berries.
  2. Avoid deep fried canapés such as spring rolls and go for ones that include some protein, such as king prawns or chicken satay sticks.  Olives, nuts, vegetable crudités and tangerines are also good foods to snack on rather than crisps.
  3. On the alcohol side, match each glass of wine with a glass of water and you’ll feel much better the next day, with a clearer head and more energy. And remember half a bottle of wine contains around 250 calories.
  4. Laden your plate with Christmas vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, swede and red cabbage.  The more colours on your plate the greater the range of nutrients.  Steamed or lightly boiled vegetables are best, so go easy on the roast potatoes and roast parsnips.
  5. Turkey is a wonderful lean meat, and is high in the amino acid tryptophan, which is needed to make the feel good brain chemical serotonin.  Therefore enjoy the Christmas turkey, but be wary of the trimmings such as sausages wrapped in bacon, which will be high in saturated fat.
  6. Choose mince pies with more fruit filling and less pastry, and remember 70% dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate, as it contains less sugar.
  7. Stay clear of rich creamy accompaniments such as bread sauce, custard, brandy butter and cream which will pile on the pounds and replace them with some natural yoghurt instead.
  8. If you over indulge then be kind to yourself the next day and start the day with a mug of hot water with freshly squeezed lemon and a breakfast of simple fruits. 
  9. Give your system and break from the excess wheat and dairy, by making a broth with the left over turkey and vegetables, or if making sandwiches use rye as an alternative to wheat bread. 
  10. To prevent that Christmas sluggish feeling, take the family ice-skating, go for a winter walk or a cycle.  It’ll boost your mood and get the metabolism going too.  Or if it’s difficult to get everyone to leave the house, why not get everyone moving about with Twister or charades!

Enjoy!

Julia

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