• Rebecca Watts

Christmas Roast - the healthy way

Christmas is upon us once more, time to “drink, eat and be merry”

For many who are trying to curb their consumption and lose a few pounds this can be quite difficult, especially with all the sit down christmas dinners and free flowing wine at the many christmas parties . Its no surprise that watching the waistline becomes a struggle.

So how do you control the excess calories getting out of control

This time of year is never going to be easy to be good with your eating, there are so many opportunities and temptations, but if you have managed to lose a few pounds or more the last thing you want is to put it all back on. So what do you do?

The first thing you need to do is get out of the dieting mindset. For about 99% of people trying to lose weight at christmas is never going to happen, and the mere fact that you are trying to could probably de-motivate you to eat everything going and / or ruin this festive season. Instead what you need to do is but yourself into maintenance mode - damage control. Your aim over the couple of weeks over christmas should be to maintain any progress made or your current position. Aim for not putting on any weight or no more than 2-3lb weight which is achievable to lose in a couple of in the new year.

Even this maintenance plan can be difficult for some. Many people have christmas party after christmas party - one for work, one for your partners work, one with your friends, one with the gym, one with the club you go to, christmas day with the family, boxing day with the in-laws….

How many Christmas dinners can you take without piling on the pounds?

With the traditional Christmas dinner and a few wines to swill it down with topping up as much as 2-3 times your daily calories, not many.

3500 excess calories is known to equate to 1lb in weight, that could be a 1lb extra weight with each event / celebration you attend. Yes it is a time to enjoy yourself but generally christas isnt just one day of celebrations and eating and drinking. If you attend one or two celebrations over this period this isnt the end of the world but if you are a social butterfly with a full calendar of events this can become a problem. So rather than becoming a bah humbug and locking yourself away, lets look at minimising the damage.

Damage Control Christmas Dinner

In theory a traditional roast is pretty balanced and is not unhealthy, but it is all the before and afters, the extras, the larger than normal portion sizes and the alcohol that swills it down that soon adds up the calories - often to 6000 calories.

So whether you are preparing christmas dinner at home or out on a christmas sit down meal here is 12 tips to cut 2000 off your christmas meal festivities.

Pre meal Drinks - start the evening or lunch celebrations off with a glass or two of sparkling water or soda rather than straight to the alcohol. Water will help balance out the alcohol later and may help you eat less. Many people can get 3-4 alcoholic drinks in even before dinner starts. By cutting down on the first glass of wine you can save yourself approx 150 calories

Avoid the bread - once you have sat down the first thing that usually comes around the table is the bread. As tempting as this may be if you can skip this temptation, you can save yourself approx 100 calories and also save room for the rest of the meal.

The starter - There is always so much to eat with a traditional 3 or 4 course christmas dinner and more often than not you are left feeling stuffed so why not opt for either a starter or a dessert or maybe share with a friend and have half of each. Alternatively try to select or prepare a healthier lower calorie option such as soup (without the bread), fish (without the sauce) or fruit. Both options saving you approx 200 calories off your starter.

Say no to stuffing - that small piece of stuffing on you plate may seem harmless but if you are trying to keep the calories down this is an easy way. Stuffing portions are generally made with sausage meat and even a small amount can add over 150 calories to you meal. Alternatively select a chestnut option instead of the sausage meat which should lower the calories slightly.

Pigs in blankets - there is no denying that these are delicious and christmas dinner wouldnt be the same without them but try to have just one to keep the calories down - each pig in blanket can be over 50 calories so even cutting down 1 can make a difference

Roast Potatoes - Roast potatoes are often a large proportion of the main dinner and who doesnt love a potato or two but the key is actually sticking to 1 or 2. Add plenty of vegetables to your plate first leaving space for 2 roast potatoes, probably saving you over 100 calories.

Toppings - so you have cut a few calories off the meal then you go and smoother it in grvy, bread and cranberry sauce. Gravy in itself isn't too bad but generally at christmas it will have been made with all the meat juices adding the extra calories through more fat than usual. Just be conscious of your gravy portion, add a teaspoon of cranberry and if you can avoid the bread sauce and you have probably knocked another 50 calories off your meal.

Eat Slowly - Savouring your food and eating slower will not only make you enjoy it more more it could also help you eat less or at least stop you going back for more, saving you up to 100 calories

Water - instead of keeping the wine flowing, keep the water flowing, have a full jug of water on the table at all times and keep sipping and topping it up. Not only with this help you not over eat but it will also save you 250 calories on those couple of extra alcoholic drinks you will avoid

The Sweet bit - for some the hardest to resist, the dessert. There is some healthier choices you can make but they are never as nice when it comes to desserts so opt for sharing with a friend and halting your portion size saving you over 200 calories.

Post dinner drinks - so the meal is over and the serious drinking begins. Try to avoid staying on the beer or the wine all evening and have some lighter options such as white spirits and lower calorie mixers. Vodka, lime and soda is a good choice for keeping calories lower and saving approx 50 calories each drink. Also break up the alcohol with a glass of water, you will be thankful for it in the morning. These two tips can save you up to 400 calories

Be active - last but not least burn the calories off. Try to be more active in the run up to the event. Don't spend the day or evening sitting and drinking, stand and socialise. If its a daytime meal, go for a family walk after. If its a evening event get yourself on the dance floor. Being more active can burn off over 250 calories.

Just being a little more mindful of your portion control, your alcohol intake and your choices can save a whopping 2000 calories and you will feel so much better for it