The Alternative Christmas Dinner

Indulging over the festive period needn't be unhealthy
ByAhlan! Live ReporterTuesday , 24 December 2013
The Alternative Christmas Dinner
Take inspiration from Jennifer Hudson

When it comes to Christmas, maintaining your usual healthy eating ways can become a near impossible feat with the temptation of mince pies, roast dinners, sugar-laced mulled wine and after-dinner treats all thrust in your direction. While it may just be one week in the year, such is the indulgence that it can take the next 51 weeks to burn off. However, it needn’t be all doom and gloom, and by eating sensibly you can still enjoy the festivities, without sacrificing all your previous hard work in the gym. Here, Dubai based nutritionist Laura Holland, from Food For Life, offers her top tips for staying healthy this Christmas...

Healthy Party Snacks
Go for the fresh stuff, like Italian and Mediterranean appetisers, which tend to focus on natural foods and flavours and are either raw or grilled. Olives and artichokes are great picking treats between meals. Choose foods that are as close to their most natural state.

Don’t Think Fat
The most calorific thing that we could have is a fat thought! Thinking that you are fat and feeling fat has the capacity to make you that way more than all the foods put together.

Alternative Roast
Roasting chicken is pretty healthy as it is so that’s fine. For the roast potatoes avoid the traditional goose fat and instead roast in olive oil, you can roast parsnips this way too and they taste great. Apple sauce is a great alternative to cranberry sauce, but if you insist on the latter go with a homemade, whole-berry cranberry sauce as opposed to the canned stuff. Likewise with the gravy, make it yourself and cut down on the fat.

To Steam Or Boil
Steamed veggies tend to keep more of their nutritional value than any other style of cooking but grilled vegetables are not too bad and they taste pretty good too! Boiling vegetables tends to destroy a significant proportion of the nutrition and if you’re making the effort to eat more vegetables then it’s a good idea to get the maximum benefits.

Festive Tipple
Mulled wine isn’t too bad, especially if you make it yourself as you can reduce the measurements of sugar. Eggnog however is quite calorie heavy, but a couple of glasses won’t burst your skinny jeans! Red
wine is best for its antioxidants but if you are going for spirits then choose the clear ones; these are more natural and easier on your body. Vodka is a good choice, and mix with cranberry juice or tonic water for a health conscious beverage!

After Dinner Nibbles
Cheese and chocolates are a post-meal must during this season, but there are healthier options. The best cheeses are feta, goats and mozzarella; all are easier to digest than the usual cheddar. When it comes to choco treats, dark chocolate is a superfood so there is no need to avoid it. Forget Celebrations and Roses, opt instead for Godiva Dark chocolates – quality girls, not quantity – you’re worth it!

Christmas Day Diet
Your focus should be on quality food rather than the quantity. Real food isn’t the problem, it’s only when we start eating overly processed foods, with manmade ingredients that biologically we’re not designed to digest. For a start replace white sugar with brown sugar – I promise, the regular raw natural sugar is much better than the chemical low calorie sweetener stuff! Just eat quality ‘real’ foods and your body will thank-you.

Steer Clear Off…
Anything with heavy creamy sauces, cheesy sauces in particular are best avoided as they’ll upset your digestion and make you bloated, which is not a great look in your LBD! For drinks keep the spirits clear and the mixers as sugar free as possible.

For Brunchers
Hit the sushi first and then move on to the salad’s before progressing to the main courses. There’s an abundance of good food at brunches, lots of vegetables, seafood and grilled meats and the quality is good so enjoy what takes your fancy. Keep the balance more on protein than carbs. Remember to pace yourself, eat slowly and chew your food properly, this way you’ll have time to realise when you’re full. That will usually mean stepping away from that chocolate fountain.

The Pudding
You honestly don’t want to know how many calories are in a Christmas pudding. If you do have room for a pudding and you’re a fan of the fruits try a fruit flan instead or better still nibble on dried fruits such as apricots, which are a good source for fibre.