Your Christmas Day food plan approved by dietitians
With the abundance of food and drinks available to us over the festive period, it can be easy to get carried away and some of us may find our weight starts to creep up as a result. If you’re worried about putting on extra weight, you’ll be happy to hear there are ways you can enjoy a delicious Christmas feast without overindulging and possibly regretting some of your food choices.
Dietitians Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth have shared their top tips with us on how to strike a healthy balance on Christmas Day.
You might think it’s best to save yourself for the big luncheon and skip breakfast, however, this isn’t always the best move. We recommend eating something in the morning, even if it’s only small, as that can help prevent overeating later on in the day.
Here are some healthy breakfast ideas for Christmas morning:
- Greek yoghurt with fruit
- Fruit smoothie
- Untoasted muesli or rolled oats
- Poached eggs on whole grain toast with tomato, mushrooms or spinach
- Veggie Omelette
- Peanut butter on whole grain toast
- Wholegrain breakfast cereal with milk and fruit
It can be overwhelmingly exciting to see the delicious spread of cheeses, dips and antipasto but before diving in we recommend stopping, scanning the options and carefully selecting a couple of things that you really love.
It’s not a case of denying yourself indulgences, but if you don’t love it, don’t eat it.
- Fresh seafood (e.g. prawns, oysters)
- Beef or chicken skewers
- Vegetables (e.g. veggie sticks, fermented veggies, marinated veggies, stuffed veggies)
- Fruit platters
- Wholegrain crackers
- Vegetable or bean based dips (e.g. hummus, guacamole)
- Steamed dumplings
Less healthy nibbles:
- Deep-fried foods
- Processed meats (e.g. salami, prosciutto, bacon)
- Creamy dips
- Processed crackers
The key when it comes to mains is to keep the balanced plate model in mind. When building your plate for mains, aim for the following:
- ½ plate vegetables: Whether they are raw, roasted, boiled or pan-fried, veggies are low in kilojoules and high in fibre, which will help to keep you feeling full. Filling half of your plate with veggies will help you to crowd out the unhealthy foods as there will be less room for them on your plate.
- ¼ of your plate lean protein: When it comes to protein at lunch, our top pick is seafood – hello fish, prawns and oysters! This doesn’t mean turkey, chicken or ham are off the menu, just try to stick to a small portion and remove any of the visible fat if you can.
- ¼ of the plate wholegrains: think wholegrain bread roll, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes. While grains are an important component of the plate, try and not go overboard here. It can be all too easy to demolish half a baguette with ham!
- Fill up your plate with just enough food to satisfy you and try to avoid going back to the buffet table if you can. If you do feel the need for seconds, make sure you’ve allowed time for your food to digest (around 20 minutes) before going back. And if you are still hungry – opt for salad or more veggies!
Yes we’re dietitians and yes it’s ok to enjoy dessert on Christmas day!
When it comes to dessert, we encourage you to think about quality over quantity. Instead of three shortbread biscuits, have one and really enjoy each mouthful. Rather than serving yourself a huge slice of pavlova, half the slice and savour it.
There are some desserts, like rich creamy cheesecake for example, that pack in loads of kilojoules. Where possible, make the most of sweet and juicy summer fruits. Similar to veggies, fruit is rich in fibre which will help to fill you up, leaving less room for other less healthy sweet stuff.
Collapsing onto the couch at the end of a big day? Chances are you probably don’t feel like eating dinner on Christmas day. And if you do, that’s ok too. We’d recommend going for something light like a salad. You might have some salads leftover from lunch that you could enjoy with a little bit of leftover seafood or meat.
Alcohol is something many of us have a love/hate relationship with. It’s packed with unwanted kilojoules, impairs muscle recovery, causes hangovers and dehydration. It also loosens our inhibitions, which increases the likelihood of eating things you wouldn’t normally…hello round 3 pavlova!
As dietitians, it would be unrealistic to expect that you would forego alcohol on Christmas day. If you choose not to drink, well done. If you are drinking, then choose wisely.
Here’s a few tips to keep you on track with your drinking:
● Don’t keep topping up that wine glass before you’ve finished drinking it. Continuously topping up your wine glass can make it very easy to lose track of how much you’ve consumed. Pour a glass and enjoy it.
● Plan your drinks. It’s a simple but strategic way to enjoy alcohol in moderation. You might decide to have a cocktail and a glass of wine with lunch. By deciding in advance, and telling your partner or family, you can pace yourself while still enjoying your beverage of choice!
● Alternate between water and alcohol. Before getting yourself another drink, have a glass of water in between. It’s a nice cycle to keep track of how much alcohol you have consumed and provide your body with some much needed hydration.
The most important thing is to enjoy Christmas eating guilt free! Keep these useful tips up your sleeve to make healthier, more mindful choices. Indulge here and there and balance big meals with lighter meals beforehand and afterwards.
Thanks for reading our advice, and we wish you a very happy Christmas!
Anna & Alex
The Biting Truth