Guide to a Healthy Christmas

Christmas is coming up, and we know it can be hard to make wise choices with all the temptations around us. So we asked nutritionist Inês Carretero to give us some food recommendations for the upcoming holiday season.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas is coming, and we know that sometimes it’s hard to make better choices with all the temptations around us. That’s why we asked nutritionist Inês Carretero to give us some food recommendations for the upcoming holiday season.

Nothing to fear from the caloric days that are fast approaching. Among the main preventive measures, we can always highlight the most important, which is to enjoy Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas lunch and New Year’s dinner “without sin”. The other meals between December 1 and the first day of the new year must be moderate and balanced to compensate for caloric excess.

In this month of December, surrounded by caloric nutritional temptations, we must continue to question the best food choices, as in other months of the year, giving priority to moderation, common sense and variety.

Added to this is the fact that in the early days of January there are leftovers and a high level of procrastination, making it difficult to return to a healthy lifestyle, including careful eating.
Here are some nutritional recommendations, which will make all the difference in the next few days:

General recommendations

Do not skip meals on holidays. Eat at least one breakfast, one lunch, one midday snack, and one light evening meal, reducing portions of simple and complex carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, fruit) and saturated fats until Christmas dinner. Sugar-free gelatin, low-fat protein yogurt with cinnamon powder, vegetable soup (no potatoes, carrots or pumpkin) and low-glycemic fruit are always welcome on these days of excess.

Exercise. Whether at home or outside, take a daily walk during these excessive days.

Last but not least, freeze the leftovers and share them with family and friends.

For the entry:

  • For appetizers and main meals, use small, colorful plates. This will make all the difference in the portions you choose.
  • Prepare healthy appetizers that offset the high-calorie dishes typical of the Christmas season. Choose toast and dark, rye or wholemeal bread and prepare a homemade vegetable dip (baby carrots, cucumbers or peppers in thick strips) accompanied by chickpea paste (hummus), avocado paste, tomato paste with olive oil or low-fat cream cheese spread.

The dish main:

  • On holidays, lunch should already be preemptive for the temptations that will come, try the main meal with spaghetti/zucchini spiral with wok stir-fried vegetables accompanied by boiled shrimp or grilled chicken cubes. Try a variety of lettuce salads with octopus, cooked shrimp or salmon, tuna in water, chicken, turkey, cream cheese or low fat cottage cheese. Try finishing the main meal with a lemon curd (preferably organic lemon) or a cup of green tea (if you have no contraindications).
  • Favour simpler food preparations such as steamed, stewed or grilled foods. Avoid fried foods whenever possible. Replace fried foods with baked foods, which are healthier and lower in calories.
  • You should always start your main meal with a bowl of vegetable soup and various vegetables. Remember that ½ of the plate should always be filled with vegetables and ¼ of the plate with the Christmas protein of your choice, such as boiled octopus, cod or turkey.
  • Pair your meals with herbal teas, cold tea or no-sugar-added lemonades and add mint leaves, a cinnamon stick and some frozen berries or thin slices of lemon or lime.

A dessert:

  • Before “attacking” the real caloric temptations, serve yourself a bowl of tasty and colorful fruit salad. Choose fruits that are a source of vitamin C (for example, papaya, orange, kiwi and strawberries).
  • Whenever possible, you should prepare desserts with low-fat products and replace sucrose (table sugar) with natural fruit puree of cooked apple/apple, Tamara Medjoul paste, carrot puree, pumpkin or sweet potato.
  • When making Christmas cakes and treats, also try replacing oil with olive oil, wheat flour with oat, rice, spelt, carob, whole wheat or flax flour. Using cocoa powder as an alternative to chocolate is always a delicious and healthy choice.
  • Choose high-protein, high-biological-value desserts made with low-fat milk and eggs, such as rice pudding or vermicelli (always adding cinnamon powder). Enjoy avocado mousse with cocoa, sweet potato or grain sorrel. Baked muscovados are also a great alternative to traditional fried foods.

Did you know?

You have to run vigorously for 16 minutes to burn off a slice of French toast!

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