herald

Wednesday 1 October 2014

DON'T PUT ON half a stone at Christmas

The average Irish person will gain up to half a stone over the festive period as the temptation of never-ending chocolates, mince pies and savoury snacks get the better of them. This isn't surprising considering that on average we consume more than 4,000 calories on Christmas Day alone -- twice the recommended daily allowance for women and almost as much for men. Add in all the extra calories consumed at work parties and at family gatherings, and what you get is bad news for your waistline.

Weight Gain Is Easily Done

It only takes a few hundred extra calories eaten here and there over a typical day to gradually build up and trigger a gain in weight. It takes just 3,500 extra calories to put on one pound in weight, which is easily done. You can have that slice of Christmas cake though -- it's just about portion control and awareness of calories.

Have A Savvy Christmas

With that in mind, I've put together a savvy food guide that will help you make healthier food choices and emerge from the season minus the excess pounds we so often pile on during December.

Seasonal Treats -- What's The Damage?

The table below will give you an idea of just how many calories are contained in your favourite Christmas treats, so, you might think twice before reaching for that second mince pie:

> Christmas Foods: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Not all Christmas foods are bad for us, in fact some are highly nutritious. By focusing on the good elements and limiting the bad ones, you can minimise the damage without feeling deprived;

The Good:

Turkey -- a good source of protein, tryptophan, zinc and B vitamins.

Sprouts -- loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Cranberries -- rich in vitamin C so can help boost immunity and make our skin glow.

The Bad:

Crackling -- crackling and poultry skin are much higher in fat than the meat itself.

Stuffing -- laden with sausage meat, yeast and butter.

Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies -- loaded with fat, calories and sugar.

The Ugly:

Soft Drinks -- contain six teaspoons of sugar per glass and full of empty calories.

Brandy butter - avoid at all costs, try custard instead.

Gorging -- stop eating when you are comfortably full, not stuffed!

Work Off Those Festive Treats

If you want to be able to enjoy some Christmas treats without feeling guilty, just make sure to take some form of exercise each day over the holidays period.

Even a 20-minute walk before or after your main meal is beneficial. It also helps you to feel refreshed and aids digestion.

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