Christmas time is usually the one time of the year where we let ourselves eat what we want and get away with it. However, if you’re after an alternative to Christmas lunch or dinner that won’t break the scales, or just want to incorporate a healthy option or two into the main meal, here are some tips and recipes for a healthy but still tasty Christmas!
Choose a base such as high protein eggs or fibre-filled fruit and layer up! Add 99% fat-free plain yoghurt to your fruit salad or mix eggs with vegetables to make a filling omelette or frittata.
Christmas Lunch ideas
Enjoy a healthy lunch with low-calories foods. Start with mixed greens and add chickpeas, roast veggies and lean proteins such as turkey, tofu, chicken or fish.
Recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man!
This huge feast not only contributes to weight gain but also to indigestion and heartburn – not to mention lethargy for the rest of the day, reducing the chances of you burning much of it off. Instead of gorging yourself on Christmas dinner, eat a normal-sized meal and then take a 20-minute break to see if you are still hungry (it takes this long for the brain to register that the stomach is full). The chances are, you’ll realise you’ve had enough.
Make healthier choices at party buffets
Buffets can be a disaster zone, so make sure to fill half your plate with salad and vegetables, and the rest with protein-based canapés like salmon and chicken. Take your time selecting and eating your food and move away from the table as soon as your plate is full to avoid non-stop grazing.
Prevent a hangover
Don’t be tempted to skip meals so you can stockpile calories for drinking. Alcohol only supplies empty calories, so avoiding proper meals to compensate for a booze splurge means you’re losing out on valuable nutrients, just when your body needs them to help it detoxify. To help prevent a hangover, stick to one type of drink and I make it a lighter-coloured one because they tend to be lower in the chemical by-products that can worsen a hangover. Aim to have no more than one alcoholic drink an hour, alternated with juice, water or soft drinks – perfect if you don’t like holding an empty glass.
Eat well the morning after
The best ‘morning after’ breakfast is a frittata or omelette packed with veg: mushrooms for their energising B vitamins, tomatoes for vitamin C and onions for their liver-friendly sulphur compounds. If you have spinach to hand, add a generous handful because it’s a great source of folate which helps my body repair DNA.
Eggs are an excellent choice for the morning after because they provide choline, a nutrient that supports the liver. Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or a chopped chilli to boost circulation and rev up your recovery. If you can’t face a cooked breakfast then have a smoothie made with fruits like bananas, oranges or kiwi – these are rich in potassium which helps replenish the electrolytes lost due to the diuretic effects of alcohol.
Click here to download the Portionshop Healthy Christmas recipes