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Christmas doesn’t have to mean automatic weight gain. See how healthy festive food can be.

You know the stats: the average caloric intake on Christmas Day is 6000+ calories. Many folk gain 5-7lbs over Christmas week. It doesn’t have to be this way. Christmas food can actually be pretty healthy. It’s just a case of knowing what to choose, and what to enjoy as occasional treats.

Make the Best Food Choices on Christmas Day

For breakfast, enjoy a treat of smoked salmon (high in omega fatty acids) or scrambled eggs (a complete protein, packed with all the amino acids). Don’t start drinking booze at breakfast: it usually leads to poorer foods choices, more snacking, and less portion control.

At the main Christmas meal, load up on turkey meat (low in fat, high in protein, and full of amino acids, vitamins and nutrients) and vegetables (Brussels sprouts are nutritional superstars). Then choose roasted potatoes, root vegetables (but only take a few - you won’t need as many as you think). Add sauces, dressings and gravy minimally. Just a little will add plenty of flavour.

Snacking during the day is where the calories start to add up. It’s very easy to eat hundreds of excess calories in nibbles, nuts, chocolates and snacks without noticing. Remember that even dried fruit and nuts are calorie dense and high in fats and sugar.

What to Avoid

Alcohol has no nutritional benefit at all and is high in calories (7 calories per gram) so drink strategically. Enjoy your favourite tipple, but remember that you don’t need to drink just because it’s Christmas. Booze halts fat loss, and in combination with the caloric overload of Christmas food it can be a recipe for weight gain. So choose carefully, enjoy, and then stop. Remember to drink plenty of water, herbal tea, and other calorie-free soft drinks to stay hydrated.

Calories can also quickly add up from canapés, pastry, sauces, side dishes, nibbles, chocolates, and anything bite-sized which is easy to over-eat without really thinking about it.

Have a Game Plan

You’re not obliged to eat and drink everything that’s on offer over Christmas. Enjoy festive treats, but be strategic. Which Christmas foods and treats do you really love? What makes Christmas for you? Is it a particular cake, homemade treat or seasonal snack? Eat some, and really enjoy it.

And what falls into the “not really worth it” category for you? If you don’t like mince pies, don’t eat them. You have the power to choose, and to say no, even if it is Christmas! Simply choosing not to indulge in things you don’t really love will save a lot of calories. Calories you can put towards things which really make Christmas for you.

Enjoy Christmas food, but remember that Christmas really is only a day or two. Stick to your healthy regular food between events and you won’t stray too far from your healthy body goals.

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