14:21 22 December 2009
With all the fatty snacks, giant portions and lashings of alcohol all in abundance, Christmas can be a time for adding the pounds rather than saving them. But with a few sensible and simple steps you can make sure you don't spend the rest of the year fighting against unwanted excess.
Pros: Without the skin, it is one of the lowest fat sources of protein, making it an ideal for your Xmas lunch as it leaves you feeling fuller for longer so you're less likely to stock up on mince pies.
It is also a great pick-me-up thanks to being high in iron, boosting energy levels, as well as providing your recommended intake of tryptophan, boosting the feelgood chemical serotonin.
Make it better: Drop the butter and opt for olive oil or an oil spray. For a fuller flavour, use herbs and pepper. And instead of stuffing with sausage meat, which is very high in fat, pack the bird with lemon, herbs and garlic. The white breast meat is the leanest and don't eat the skin.
Pros: Veggies are not only tasty, they provide the essential vitamins and minerals we need. Your Xmas dinner is the ideal time to ensure you get your five-a-day as it's a time we eat more fruit and veg than any other.
The beta-carotene in carrots is great for good eye health and skin, and have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in older women.
Love them or hate them, sprouts are a stuffed with valuable nutrients, including vitamins C and E, and boost our immune systems.
Peas, satsumas and cranberries are also fantastic sources of vitamin C. Peas are also good for fibre, as are cranberries (make sure you make your own as shop bought cranberry sauce is laden in sugar).
Red cabbage contains glucosinolates and is rich in antioxidants. Add onions, sultanas and apples with a touch of mixed spices to boost the flavour and fruit and veg intake.
Make them better: Preserve the important vitamins by peeling and chopping them as near to cooking as possible and don't boil them for too long or steam them.
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Pros: Potatoes are packed with vitamin C, helping us about Christmas cold blues, as well as helping us absorb the iron from our helpings of turkey. They may also help our bodies fight off cancer.
Make them better: Cooking them in goose fat or lard is a definite way to ensure you add on the Xmas pounds. Instead, use small amounts of vegetable oil. Cutting them into bigger pieces will also mean you use less fat.
Pros: This favourite festive pud is a great source of fibre thanks to lashings of healthy dried fruits.
Make it better: it can be fairly high in sugar, so opt for a small portion and top it with half-fat crème fraiche or custard made with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk rather than brandy and double cream. If you can't resist the brandy, make sure you set fire to it to burn off the calories while retaining the flavour.
For a healthier and less rich dessert, try stewing plums, apples, frozen berries and cinnamon for a tasty compote as an alternative.
Pros: A little festive tipple can be me good for our mood and heart health. Wine contains polyphenols which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Red wine is also particularly high in antioxidants.
Make it better: Don't crack open the booze in the morning, otherwise you could have had your weekly intake by the time the Queen makes her speech. Instead, wait until lunch starting with a seasonal warm punch before moving onto your favourite tipple.
Whether it's running around with the kids, enjoying the snow or even a post Christmas dinner walk, making sure you get some excerise will make sure you don't get an unwanting Xmas present around you waist!
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