How to get 5-a-day at Christmas
Christmas Day is typically about being with family and friends, presents, games and food … lots of food!
For it’s not the actual Christmas dinner that can lead to weight gain but overall calories intake. There has been some research that suggests some of us may eat three times our daily calorie intake in one day!
So how can you keep your Christmas Day in check when it comes to food and still aim for at least five a day?
Read on for my tips on getting your fruit and veg in, whilst still enjoying Christmas.
Start the day with a good breakfast – a protein-led breakfast such as eggs and smoked salmon, porridge or some natural yoghurt is a great start. It will fill you up for long enough before you need to start reaching for the canapés. This is also where you can get your first portion of fruit or veg in too!
Sauté a cereal bowl’s worth of spinach to have alongside your eggs and smoked salmon
Add 2 tbsp raisins or mixed dried fruit to your porridge or yoghurt, and top with some nuts and seeds for extra health benefits. Or you could add a small banana
Fruit juice – just a maximum of 150ml counts as one of your five a day, as it is high in sugar. Instead of plumping for orange juice (save that for the Bucks Fizz!) switch it up and have pomegranate juice instead, because it is high in antioxidants and helps protect your cells and reduce inflammation. You can also dilute it to make a longer drink with water or sparkling water.
Whatever your nibbles, cut up some crudités to have around the kitchen which you can crunch on rather than the more beige section of nibbles that do the rounds. Just 1.5 sticks of celery counts as one of your five a day. Dunk it in some hummus or make my avocado dip (below) for a healthier and more filling dip.
Put some olives out. As well as being a source of good fat, 8 olives is 1/2 of one of your 5-a-day.
The main event
I love Christmas dinner and all the trimmings, but you can still get a few of your 5-a-day portions in there … and no potatoes don’t count. They are too starchy and are therefore a carbohydrate.
Just 8 Brussels sprouts is two servings
½ a medium parsnip or 1 medium carrot is one serving
3 tbsp green peas and 4 cauliflower florets is one serving
2 heaped tbsp red cabbage is almost one serving
Whether you are vegetarian or vegan, make sure you don’t just rely on a nut roast or something similar for your main. Get those fresh veggies in too!
STAY HYDRATED (OF THE NON-ALCOHOLIC VARIETY) IN ORDER TO MINIMISE THE HANGOVER THE NEXT DAY, AID DIGESTION, AND KEEP YOUR BRAIN SHARP FOR THOSE BOARD GAMES LATER!
Traditional Christmas desserts like Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and mince pies are made with dried fruit, so just one serving will actually add to your five-a-day but just go easy on the clotted cream! Mince pies are great, but all that pastry does make them high in sugar and saturated fat.
The cheese board
Decorate your cheese board with fresh fruit and opt for these healthier accompaniments than the crackers and bread.
Just 2 dates or 2 figs is more than one of your five a day – they also go great with cheese if you’ve never tried it
Get those celery sticks out again – remember just 1.5 sticks is another 1 of your 5-a-day
8 grapes counts as 1/2 portion of your 5-a-day too!
I sometimes play a little game with myself at events like dinner parties or Christmas dinner - I aim to be the last one to clear my plate. By eating slower than everyone else it ensures I don't overeat, and no-one else has a clue that you're doing it … works every time!
And remember ...
Christmas Day is to be enjoyed but don't use it as an excuse to go mad because "it's just one day of the year"
Eat mindfully, chew your food well and savour the moment, stopping when you are almost full (or see my 'dinner party 'game'')
Go for a walk pre or post dinner
Keep an eye on the alcohol - just one small glass of red wine is almost 100 calories and 125ml of Bailey's is a whopping 383 calories - that's a meal in a glass!
Put some big jugs of water out, and add some slices of orange, lemon or cucumber for extra health benefits and taste. If water is out of sight, it’s out of mind so put it where you can see it to remind you to stay hydrated.
Avocado Cream Dip
2 large ripe avocados halved and pitted
1-2 tbsp Greek yoghurt or sour cream
2 large cloves garlic minced (optional)
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to season to taste
1. Place the avocado, yogurt, garlic, and lime juice in the blender and blend until completely smooth.
2. Season with salt and pepper, according to taste.
3. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately or cover tightly and serve within 24 hours
Top tips for making Christmas healthier
Have a protein-rich breakfast!
Eat mindfully (and slower than everyone else)
Put healthy nibbles out along with the naughtier ones
Pause and breathe - do you really need another chocolate?