While this might be the most wonderful time of the year, it is not always the healthiest so if you want to know how to enjoy Christmas and cut calories, read on!
Research suggests that each of us will demolish more than 5,300 calories on Christmas Day alone.
Not only is that nearly three times a woman’s recommended daily allowance of calories, but it also equates to eating nearly 10 Big Macs!
More worryingly, the average woman will end up adding five pounds to her weight over the festivities.
So, it should come as no surprise when health clubs and gyms see membership enquiries rocket every January.
It also means that to burn off Christmas dinner excess you will need to:
- Go for a 12-hour walk on Boxing Day
- That walk should be at least 50 miles
- Or jog for six hours.
Enjoy Christmas: Slash calories from your festive diet
But with some smart swaps, you could slash thousands of calories from your festive diet before the end of December.
First, you should be smart about drinking.
Most of us enjoy a festive tipple or two but choosing your drinks can make a huge difference.
You should consider using low-calorie alternatives for mixers and drinks – low-calorie tonic water will save around 9.5g in sugar and 40 calories.
And before you get stuck into beer, did you know that a pint has around the same calorie count as a slice of pizza?
So, by simply drinking less in December, you will save yourself thousands of calories over the festivities.
Experts also suggest that you drink bottled beers because this will encourage you to drink more slowly and have fewer drinks.
For those who like spirits, opt for single measures because this can also have a big impact.
It may help to appreciate that drinking two glasses of prosecco before your Christmas Day meal will add 230 calories – and you’ll need to undertake a 46-minute walk to get rid of them.
- A handful of crisps equals 175 cal and will need 35 minutes of walking
- Two slices of turkey equal 200 cal and 40 minutes of walking
- Three pigs in blankets are 160 cal and 32 minutes of walking
- Three roast potatoes and mashed potato is 335 cal and 67 minutes of walking
- One Yorkshire pudding is 150 cal and 30 minutes of walking.
Things get worse for dessert, and Christmas dinner diners need to appreciate:
- A yule log or Christmas pudding equates to 610 cal and 122 minutes of walking
- Cheese and biscuits equate to 450 cal and 90 minutes of walking
- Ice cream/cream/custard equates to 120 cal and 24 minutes of walking.
How to be Scrooge-like with Christmas Day calories
You should drink water during Christmas Day to keep hydrated and stop you from over-indulging – drinking lots of water will also boost your feelings of fullness. You should also consider:
- Opting for brown bread to add fibre to your diet and boost eggs on toast with a chopped tomato
- If you are having smoked salmon, then rather than using butter and hollandaise, consider using black pepper and squeezed lemon
- Be careful about eating the fattier parts of a traditional Christmas dinner, such as crispy turkey skin
- Consider steaming vegetables to help retain nutrients
- Consider boiled potatoes instead of roast potatoes
- Avoid crisps, chocolate and other snacks and choose fruit and nuts instead
- Avoid full-sugar fizzy drinks and switch to diet drinks or dilute fruit juice.
Following some or all these tips could see you saving thousands of calories on Christmas Day.
Christmas dinner trimmings
Christmas dinner in most households is a proper food blowout but you should consider swapping things like sausage meat stuffing with a veggie alternative.
This could see you reducing your calorific intake by 50 calories and fat by 5g with every serving.
Be aware that packet mixes for stuffing will have added salt and you could make a vegetarian stuffing easily using onion, chestnut, breadcrumbs and herbs.
Don’t forget breakfast
While we may get caught up in the excitement of opening presents and wishing friends and family a Merry Christmas, don’t forget to eat breakfast.
There will be lots of people skipping their first meal and opting to run on Bucks Fizz and chocolate until Christmas dinner is served up.
The issue is that skipping meals can promote bingeing and overeating and chocolate is packed with calories so you could be hungry within an hour.
Instead, choose to start the day with high fibre cereals such as bran flakes or Weetabix, or opt for porridge.
Not only are these cereals low in added sugar, but they offer a slow-release energy source.
Alternatively, consider two poached eggs on seeded or wholemeal bread.
Rethinking roast potatoes
The next tip from experts may appear to be more controversial, but they say you should rethink your roast potato intake.
You should consider keeping the skins on the potatoes to boost the fibre content and opt to cook them in olive oil rather than goose fat.
Also, when plating up at the Christmas dinner table, you should look to have at least half of your plate filled with vegetables.
Grazing and lower calories
It’s not only on Christmas Day that we over-indulge, but grazing also takes place over the Christmas holidays, and you could pile on the pounds.
There’s no escaping the fact that snacks are a popular offering but rather than chewing on cheese straws, opt for breadsticks instead – they have much lower saturated fat levels.
Indeed, each breadstick contains 20 calories.
And rather than eating a bag of crisps that are meant to be shared, choose nuts instead, particularly unsalted nuts. Though you only need a handful of these!
You could also add hummus and vegetable crudities instead of cream-based dips or Greek yoghurt and homemade salsa.
How to lose weight after Christmas – what will work for most people
Here are the tips given by experts on how to lose weight after Christmas – these are simple steps and everyone can take part:
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet
- Exercise portion control
- Only occasionally less-healthy foods that you enjoy
- Eat only when hungry – and stop eating when you are full
- Exercise regularly – try to do so for 30 minutes every day
- Sleep! Get plenty of sleep.
The Association of UK Dietitians (BDA) recommends the following steps to achieve a healthier weight – and maintain it.
They say that 63% of Brits are obese or overweight and that losing between 5% and 10% of your weight will bring real health benefits, including a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They recommend that you:
- Set a weight goal and action plan: Set a clear goal and establish measurable goals for success
- Monitor yourself: Weigh yourself once or twice a week to help you lose weight
- Follow a healthy eating plan: Try not to follow a fad diet but choose a healthier balanced eating plan instead
- Be active: Reduce the length of time you are lying down or sitting, and slowly build up how active you are.
Your weight loss journey will see some lifestyle changes taking place and the BDA says that this may not all be plain sailing and there will be challenges to derail you.
However, this should be used as a learning opportunity and there is no quick fix for losing weight successfully – you need to establish new activity and lifestyle habits to achieve your personal weight loss goals.
Enjoy Christmas cake slice rules
One easy trick to reduce sugar intake when eating Christmas cake is to not eat the marzipan and icing.
The dried fruit also makes a cake nutritious, but it is still high in sugar and fat.
So, you should try to keep the cake slices small – around the size of a pack of cards.
When tucking into Christmas pudding, you could consider half-fat creme fraiche instead of brandy butter.
Brandy butter contains around 89 calories per tablespoon, while creme fraiche is half that.
You could even add some vanilla extract to the creme to make the pudding taste even more delicious.
Dealing with Christmas dinner leftovers
Rather than cook a specific meal, such as a ham for Boxing Day, you should consider tucking into any leftover cooked chicken or turkey instead.
These have less salt and fat than a ham, which is processed and high in fat.
You should also consider adding wholegrain bread, cucumber slices and tomatoes to a buffet spread, along with homemade coleslaw to boost fibre and vegetable intake levels.
Reconsider your cheeseboard
Many homes will be offering an impressive cheeseboard as part of their festive spread but by shopping smart you can make a big difference to your calorie intake.
This is particularly the case for those who are considering deep frying a cheese, including mozzarella which will add fat.
Consider swapping high fat products for cottage cheese and a cheese like camembert is better calorie-wise than Stilton.
That’s because a slice of Stilton could contain 10g of fat and around 150 calories.
You should also keep a cheese portion small, for example, a 30g slice will be ideal.
For families who are keen trifle fans, you should consider using fresh fruit, low-fat custard and sugar-free jelly.
And rather than using a syrup, opt for tinned fruit that is sold with juice which could save around 5g of sugar and 10g of fat per serving.
Also, you could reduce the calorie count by using half-fat creme fraiche or smaller blobs of cream so that the thickness is thinner to reduce calories.
Consider your pies
When visiting or entertaining, mince pies tend to be a staple offering and while they are not renowned for being healthy, there are some better choices.
For example, if you want to offer a guest mince pies, considering offering one that doesn’t have an iced or pastry top.
By doing so, you’ll be saving around 5g of sugar and 50 calories.
For those who do enjoy a lid on their mince pie, look for those that come with a filo pastry top instead.
Avoiding festive food that is high in fat
There’s no doubt that by avoiding festive food that is high in fat, such as mince pies, you will be consuming more than your recommended daily calorific intake.
A traditional Christmas shouldn’t be an excuse for weight gain so avoiding saturated fat and thinking about your calories per serving will help prevent you from piling on the pounds.
You can do this and still enjoy the festive season and having a Christmas dinner with low-calorie options means you won’t be racking up the calories on Christmas Day.
As we have seen, having a healthier option on the table – such as swapping roast potatoes for boiled ones – might be a popular choice with other diners too. You could even check out the tips from the NHS for a healthy, balanced diet.
Also, don’t overdo the alcoholic drink count when you enjoy Christmas lunch and this too will help you cut calories and not pile on the pounds!
Enjoy Christmas weight loss methods
Finally, here is an item on This Morning with Steve Miller to explain the weight-loss methods that everyone can use after Christmas.
He offers three simple techniques – and promises they will work!