6 tips for a guilt-free Christmas dinner

December 04 2014

The Christmas dinner is a foodie’s dream come true. But beware, as the average adult is said to consume a staggering 6,000 calories over the course of Christmas Day!

The delicious treats start from the moment you wake up, with a salmon breakfast, to cheese and nibbles throughout the morning and then the afternoon feast which is followed by rich puddings and the opening of the after-dinner chocolates. Add generous helpings of alcohol throughout the day and it becomes easy to see how the calories soon add up.

While we have previously discussed that you should never just count calories, it is obvious that if you are eating nearly 3 times the recommended daily allowance, you are going to gain weight or suffer undesirable consequences.

Don’t fear, at DW Fitness First Clubs we want you to get the most out of your Christmas dinners, that’s why we have rounded up some tips to make it a little healthier so you can enjoy a special day without feeling too guilty.

Turkey

Turkey is actually a great choice for the health conscious, as it is a lean meat packed full of protein and B vitamins needed for energy production. You will often see low-fat sandwiches made from turkey and people have turkey bacon as opposed to pork as it has less fat content. So where does it go wrong on Christmas Day?

The skin on a turkey, or any other roasted poultry, is where most of the fat lies. This, combined with the amount of oil smothered over it during roasting, means that the skin alone adds around 40 calories per portion. Removing the skin from the turkey before you eat it will leave you with the lean meat and less of the bad fats.

Opt for lighter meat such as the breast over darker meat such as the legs or thighs, as the latter contain a greater proportion of fat. Before cooking, prick the skin to allow the fat to drain out and roast it on an upturned ovenproof plate so it is not soaking in the fat. Nobody wants to eat a dry turkey, try to spray a light oil over the bird as opposed to basting it with oil or butter. If you are going to use the meat juices to make gravy, make sure that you drain the fat from it first.

Vegetables

Christmas may be the time for indulging on rich delicacies like meat and cheese, but don’t forgot your greens!

Load your plate full of colourful vegetables, as they contain minimal calories and fat, while being packed full of vitamins and nutrients. Whenever you can, try and steam them instead of boiling as you will be less likely to sprinkle salt over them to flavour. If you want to add some extra flavour, sprinkle some herbs or squirt some fresh lemon juice over them for a calorie-free flavour explosion. But above everything, avoid coating them in butter, as this will add around 75 calories per tablespoon.

Stuffing

While we may love sausage stuffing, it might not be as desirable when we reveal just how bad it is for you, with 32 g of fat per serving!

Chestnuts are a great alternative to sausage meat when making your own stuffing, they are low in fat and are high in potassium and protein. They also only have 3 g of fat in the chestnut, a number which can be much more easily swallowed. Chestnut stuffing really does taste the same as well, so keep it a secret and see if anybody can tell the difference. You may just even get a few more compliments about the new recipe!

If you are using packaged sausage stuffing, avoid adding butter as it will only add extra fat and can hardly be tasted once you’ve poured gravy over.

Extras

The extras are often the best parts of the Christmas feast. Pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes and many other scrumptious treats complete the dinner we love so much. As little as they may seem, many of these extras are a lot naughtier than you might have thought.

Use mini chipolata sausages wrapped in low fat bacon or turkey bacon to create a much less fattier version of pigs in blankets. When roasting your potatoes and parsnips, use a low-calorie cooking spray instead of cooking them in oil or butter. Alternatively, an Airfryer can provide properly-cooked roasties using only 1 small teaspoon of oil, it even halves the cooking time as well! Beware of cranberry sauce and other condiments, as they have a high sugar content and are packed full of hidden calories which could end up adding an extra 100 to your meal.

Puddings

For those of you with a sweet tooth, Christmas Day is the time to indulge in some delectable delights. With plenty of helpings of rich Christmas pudding and cake, along with grazing on boxes of chocolates, biscuits and sweets throughout the day.

Watch your intake of nibbles, as you can quite easily go through a whole packet of sweets or biscuits without realising it, rapidly adding hundreds of calories on to your day. Christmas pudding is surprisingly low in fat, but the calories begin to add up from soaking it in brandy, custard and cream. Choose fat-free Greek yogurt instead of cream to make it healthier.

Alcohol

Alcohol is extremely high in calories and fat which means it is always going to be terrible for your waistline. While you can never make alcohol healthy, there are a few tricks to lower your intake. Drink clear spirits like vodka with a diet mixer such as lemonade to lower the amount of alcohol you consume. Whatever you choose to drink, make sure you take regular breaks by drinking water or soft drinks throughout the day. This will help your body to break down the alcohol quicker and will stop you from getting as drunk and saying anything you regret at the dinner table.

While Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself, don’t let overindulgence ruin all of your hard work. It would take 7 hours of intense exercise to burn off all the calories consumed on just one gluttonous Christmas Day.

Moderate exercise throughout the festive period will help you to maintain a healthy weight and could help you to stay away from temptation by focusing you on your goals. Sign up today for a healthier Christmas.