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10 steps to a healthy Christmas

Light Christmas option ... trade pudding for pavlova.

Light Christmas option ... trade pudding for pavlova. Photo: Drew Ryan

No one wants to feel deprived at Christmas or like they're being a gourmet grinch. But, as we enter the silly season of overindulgence, for many it can become a battle against an all out belly blowout.

By making a few simple swaps however, you can maintain your waistline without forgoing the festivities. Here are the experts' top 10 healthy Christmas swaps.

Swap overindulging on five days for one

"At Christmas time a lot of people say 'I just want to eat whatever I want'," says Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin. "That's fine, but choose one day, not five days, to go for it." She also says keeping active over the holiday period can keep indulgences in check. "Don't stop exercising. Who wants to come back from holidays and have to hit gym harder than before. A little bit of consistencey goes a long way."

Swap a plate for a taste

QUICKSLIM Australia Nutritionist, Chris Lynton says: "When eating, you experience 90 per cent of the taste in the first mouthful, while flavour and taste decreases in every mouthful to follow. With this in mind, if you've decided to indulge just a little this Christmas, opt for a small amount and savour it as much as possible. Remember - if you go back for more you won't enjoy it as much as that initial first bite."

Swap accepting body blowout defeat for winning the mini battles of the will.

A recent survey of more than 2000 Australians, commissioned by QUICKSLIM Australia, found that despite knowing how to eat well, more than 4 out of 5 say their willpower is to blame for holiday season over indulgences. But, Chris Lynton says that mini goals are a great way to keep motivated and stay on track. "Set yourself some small goals to achieve over the Christmas period and reward yourself as you achieve them (but not with food!). Perhaps for every Christmas party you endure without falter you could reward yourself with a trip to the nail bar, or perhaps a round of golf. This paired with structured weight loss goals will really assist with willpower during the silly season."

Swap fatty for fresh hors d'ourves

Pate is full of saturated fat but there are delicious healthy alternatives, says Zoe Bingley-Pullin. "I do an Asian salmon dip, which is high in good fats and a roast broccoli dip instead [recipes below]. They're both really tasty, but much healthier." She also suggests opting for goat's cheese on your cheese plate over brie or blue. "Goat's cheese is generally lower in fat, less processed and lower in sodium. It's also easier to digest and contains more enzymes." When it comes to other nibbly bits, Zoe recommends unroasted, unsalted nuts and ditching crisps for toasted pita breads: "I do my own and sprinkle them with lots of paprika and herbs."

Swap emotional eating for active engagement.

"Emotional eating is something we are all prone to," says Chris Lynton. "If you catch yourself reaching for the bickies after a trying day with the relatives, make sure you distract yourself with something a little more positive. Hit the pavement to try and work off angst or make plans to catch up with a good friend for coffee. Keeping strong in trying situations is key, everyone hits hurdles, it's how you handle them that counts."

Swap high GI (Glycemic Index) for low GI

According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, the glycemic index or GI ranks a carbohydrate according to its effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs - the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels - is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss. Australia's leading scientist in the field of Glycemic Index research, Dr Alan Barclay suggests simple Christmas lunch swaps such as roast potato for sweet potato, corn or carrots and swapping white bread crumbs in your stuffing for Burgen low GI bread or traditional oats.

Swap winter for summer style

"We have Christmas in the middle of summer," Bingley-Pullin remarks. "So, a lighter option is nicer anyway - we don't need a heavy, winter meal." She suggests a roast chook, lamb or eye fillet over a heavy meal of roast pork with crackiling. "Barbequed veggies are a lovely and colourful alternative to heavy roast vegetable dishes. A longer platter with asapragus, zuchinni, squash and capsicum looks gorgeous and is appetising. Try it topped with parsely and lemon wedges. Then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper."

Swap a glass of bubbly for a glass of sparkling water

Alternating drinks will lower your intake of calories and can help steer you towards better food choices. In the QUICKSLIM survey, 60 per cent admitted that drinking alcohol lowered their ability to "say no" when tempted by poor food choices. "Set yourself a rule to have a glass of water between drinks and cap yourself at a certain number of drinks," Chris Lynton suggests. "If you are to drink, opt for lower carbohydrate beverages such as vodka with soda and a squeeze of lime and stay away from the beer and wine."

Swap heavy Christmas pud for lighter fresh sweets

Pavlova with lite whipped cream, low fat yoghurt or 99 per cent fat-free fromage frais, sliced strawberries, bananas, grapes and passionfruit, is a great option says Dr Barclay. He also suggests vanilla pannacotta with strawberry salsa, or Chrismas shaped gingernut biscuits. "By making [these] small, simple modifications, you can lower the GI of your festive dinner. By doing this you will be eating the healthiest foods for your body and this will help prevent weight gain in the process,” he said.

Swap saving for sharing

Sharing is caring at Christmas, says Chris Lynton. It can also help keep your waist line intact. "In the instance that you host your own soiree, guests often bring sweet treats as gifts," he says. "While it's a lovely gesture, left-over treats are a sure way to put your willpower in jeopardy. Make sure you share food gifts and left-overs with your guests so no naughty nibbles remain in the fridge to tempt you tomorrow."

 

Asian salmon dip

Ingredients:

100 gram tin of salmon in spring water

1 tbsp of salt reduced soy sauce or tamari sauce

1 tsp of fresh ginger, grated finely

1 tbsp of fresh mint, chopped finely

1 tbsp of coriander, chopped finely

1 tsp of lime juice

1 tbsp of orange juice

½ tsp of fresh chili, chopped finely (remove seeds too reduce spice)

 

Method:

Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

Serve with a selection of vegetables sticks. Try baby corn for something different.

 

 

Roasted garlic, broccoli and cannellini bean dip

Ingredients:

4 whole garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons dried chilli or paprika

6 pieces of soy and linseed bread or multigrain bread, cut into rounds using a cookie cutter (approx. 30-40 mm) and toasted

2 cups of broccoli, roasted

¼ cup of roasted almonds

250ml canned cannellini beans, rinsed, drained

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp of lemon juice

Parsley to serve

 

Method:

Cut the bread into 30-40mm rounds and roast in a pre-heated 140 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Increase the oven heat to 160 degrees, and place the broccoli, garlic, olive and chilli, in the oven for approx. 15-20 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.

In a food processor add the broccoli, the drained and rinsed cannellini beans, almonds and lemon juice, and blend until smooth.

To serve place approximately 1tsp of the broccoli mixture on the bread rounds and sprinkling with a little parsley. Yummy!

10 comments

  • Wow, sounds like a really delicious Christmas blowout with these guys! Broccoli and bean dip, sparkling water instead of champagne, and no days off the gym!! Why not just rebadge the whole season as Lent rather than Chrissie?!

    Commenter
    jimmi
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 08, 2011, 9:20AM
    • God, I'd rather put on a kilo or two than be the tedious wowser this article is encouraging.

      Commenter
      TH
      Date and time
      December 08, 2011, 10:07AM
      • Christmas round your place must be an absolute scream

        Commenter
        DHR
        Date and time
        December 08, 2011, 10:45AM
        • Yes, I think for one day of the year, surely it's OK to indulge a bit. So long as you don't continue....

          Commenter
          lola
          Date and time
          December 08, 2011, 11:15AM
          • Folks - surely you're missing the point here with your reactions of horror and distaste? The article is labelled "10 steps to a healthy Christmas". If you don't want to make any changes to make your Christmas more healthy - then don't read the article! I for one have gotten some great tips - thanks for your work Sarah.

            Commenter
            Simon
            Date and time
            December 08, 2011, 11:48AM
            • I admit to being pretty helth conscious, but I also think there are times when the rules go out the window, and Christmas is one of them!! Oh come on..... meringue instead of Christmas pudding?? You only have it once a year. Enjoy!

              Commenter
              optimiss
              Date and time
              December 08, 2011, 12:10PM
              • Read what she said people - she's not saying that you can't indulge at all, just that it's better not to totally pig out over the entire Christmas-New Year period.

                Commenter
                kem
                Date and time
                December 08, 2011, 12:52PM
                • The article is about keeping slim over christmas. What did you expect - the recipe for magic no-kilojoule eggnog? If you've read this, you're probably interested in keeping (or getting!) in shape, and bristling at being told to watch what you eat will explain why you are not.

                  If you can genuinely keep christmas to one day, or better yet, one meal, then it's fine to indulge, but most people look at it as a fortnight long season of parties and catch-ups. Possibly followed by summer holidays, and who watches what they eat on holiday? Followed by easter, which only comes once a year so why not etc. etc.

                  There are plenty of "special occasions" around if you choose to declare them, but if you want to be thin, occasionally you will need to spend time in the presence of cake without eating it.

                  Commenter
                  DisDis
                  Location
                  Sydney
                  Date and time
                  December 08, 2011, 2:42PM
                  • Pretty sure the article said that you CAN have a blow out day on Christmas instead of being a gluttonous pig for the whole month of December. I'm also pretty sure that the point of it was how to reduce the damage done throughout the whole month.
                    Thanks for the healthy tips, Sarah. Rest assured at least one person got what you were writing about!

                    Commenter
                    Snickoo
                    Location
                    The Gong
                    Date and time
                    December 08, 2011, 2:44PM
                    • @ DisDis
                      "occasionally you will need to spend time in the presence of cake without eating it."

                      LOVE IT :)

                      Commenter
                      Ms Madelaine
                      Location
                      St Kilda
                      Date and time
                      December 08, 2011, 4:43PM
                      Comments are now closed
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