How to cut calories this Christmas

Caroline Cassidy
holiday dieting
holiday dieting

From mince pies and drinks parties to Christmas pud and cheeseboards, the festive season is loaded with calories, and that spells trouble for anyone watching their weight. In fact, the average Brit consumes a whopping 7,000 calories on Christmas Day alone, so if you'd rather not spend New Year working off the pounds you put on during all the merriment, here's how to cut the calories and still enjoy yourself.

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Start the day the right way
What with the nibbles, canapés and earlier-than-normal drinks going around on Christmas Day, a healthy breakfast is the wise choice. It'll keep you feeling full until lunchtime which means you won't be so tempted by calorie-laden nibbles. Eggs are relatively low in calories at just 78 for a large one, and they're high in protein to keep you feeling full. Alternatively, have a bowl of porridge with semi-skimmed milk for just 156 calories.

Super snacks
If you feel tempted to snack eat some clementines - only 24 calories each - or delicious, seasonal roasted chestnuts, whose 240 calories per 100g compares favourably to the 622 calories you'll get from the same amount of salted peanuts.

The turkey dinner
The good news is that turkey is a lean meat and therefore relatively low in fat and calories. However, it does have a downside - the skin. 100g of turkey with the skin on can work up to 146 calories and 4.9g of fat, depending on your basting choices, while the same amount of skinless meat is only 104 calories and less than half the fat. Skip the dark meat and stick with the white too. That juicy leg can contain as much as 40 per cent more calories than the breast.

Of course traditionally turkey comes with 'all the trimmings', and this is where the real problem lies. Stuffing of the sausage meat variety is a particular calorie culprit with as many as 252 in a 100g serving (not to mention the sky high fat content), so opt instead for a fruit or chestnut based alternative and cut those numbers down to 162 calories and just 0.8g of fat. Secondly, be careful with those pigs in blankets. A couple of chipolatas wrapped in streaky bacon comes to 212 calories and 8.6g of fat. Instead load up your plate with low-cal veggies like sprouts and carrots.

And much as we all love a roast potato or four, the cooking process adds fat. In 100g of oil-roasted spuds, there are 149 calories and 4.5g of fat. Since the turkey takes a while in the oven, make a healthy swap and go for a tasty, crispy-skinned jacket potato with only 109 calories and 0.1g of fat.

Pudding peril
Since Christmas comes but once a year, there's no reason you should deny yourself that rich, boozy pudding. But you should keep an eye on your portion. The average 100g portion of Christmas pud comes to a sizeable 330 calories, so stick to just the one small serving. Better still, shun the whipped cream and brandy butter and top your dessert with fat-free Greek or natural yoghurt, which amounts to just seven calories in a 15g serving. It's still sumptuous and it'll cut through a little bit of the sweetness.
Back off the booze
Putting the 'merry' into Christmas, alcohol is a calorie-counter's nightmare. Consider that your average pint of lager is somewhere north of 180 calories, there are 175 calories in a large G&T, and 228 in a large glass of vino, and you can see why booze is the enemy of the dieter. A glass of sparkling wine comes in at a more reasonable 95 calories, so you can still spoil yourself and celebrate. But alternating between alcohol and water for the rest of the day will help to keep the calorie count down, and probably allow you to enjoy Boxing Day just that little bit more!

Do you watch the calories on Christmas Day, or ditch the diet for this one day each year? Leave your comments below...

Low Calorie Holiday Recipes
Low Calorie Holiday Recipes