How nutritious is traditional Christmas dinner?

Why do we feel that we must overdo it in the culinary stakes, just because it’s Christmas?

What with Christmas parties, lunches, mince pies, nuts, Christmas cake and that oh so attractive cheese board it’s no wonder that most of us forgo our healthy eating regimen and overindulge in the finer things we would usually skip.

But it’s not all bad news.  With some careful planning it is simple to make sure there are a variety of healthy, tasty nibbles around the house which will get you into the festive mood but not leave you feeling too guilty.

The key thing about eating over the festive period to try to achieve a balance by eating lower-calorie foods at other times of the day so we do not feel guilty about choosing the foods we enjoy and certainly do not feel like we’re missing out.

Georgina Camfield, Associate Nutritionist at AXA PPP healthcare tells us that we should be striving to maintain our weight over Christmas and not trying to lose it by depriving ourselves of foods we like.

It’s okay to help yourself to the odd sugary or fatty food, just try to eat a smaller portion and savour it by eating it slowly.

Even our traditional Christmas dinner can be nutritious and doesn’t have to be too unhealthy.  With just a few tweaks it can provide us with lots of minerals and vitamins.

How nutritious is our traditional Christmas dinner?

A traditional Christmas day meal can be surprisingly healthy.  Here is the lowdown on 10 of our Christmas table favourites:

  1. Smoked salmon -This ideal starter is tasty and low in calories.  It gives a good source of protein along with omega-3 fats which promote good heart health.
  2. Roast turkey – If you don’t eat the skin, turkey is surprisingly low in fat and full of protein. Leftovers can be used in a colourful vitamin rich salad or healthy curry the next day.
  3. Roast potatoes – ditch the goose fat or lard and roast in olive oil or flaxseed oil to keep the saturated fat down. They’ll absorb less fat if you cut them larger too.  They are also a delicious source of vitamin C and energy providing carbohydrates. And for added fibre you can always keep the skins on.
  4. Brussels sprouts – fabulous for the immune system as they are crammed with vitamin C and folic acid. An average serving of around 9 sprouts will provide half of your daily needs.
  5. Carrots – served steamed or boiled (or raw as crudités before the main course). Carrots are packed full of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A, along with other carotenoids, are potentially disease-beating antioxidants and also good for eye health.
  6. Peas – steam peas in a small amount of water. They are a great source of iron, zinc, fibre, folic acid, vitamin E, and most other B vitamins.
  7. Christmas pudding – try making your own with less sugar as the dried fruit is packed full of it. It also contains plenty of potassium and some iron and fibre.
  8. Custard – ditch the brandy butter and have custard instead. It is a low fat alternative and a good source of calcium which is vital for good bone health.  Even healthier if you choose skimmed or semi-skimmed milk.
  9. Satsumas – not just a stocking filler, each satsuma will provide half your daily requirement of vitamin C too. Also, great to snack on between meals.
  10. Walnuts – nuts are packed full of healthy fats and nutrients that promote better heart health and reducing inflammation.

When the partying is over and you have welcomed in the New Year, your resolutions should include positive ways to help you live better. Choose healthier food options, eat smaller portions, make sure you have at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day and don’t forget to include more exercise in your daily routine too.

Visit the Silversurfers diet and exercise section for some nutritious inspiration and alternative ways of exercising.

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