SIMPLE DIET SWAPS AT CHRISTMAS
It’s CHRISTMAS! And that means one thing... it’s time for the festivities to commence!
Christmas is a time of the year where you can let your hair down, spend time with friends and family, eat delicious foods and have a drink or two!
However, with the many delicious foods and drinks it has to offer, for many the Christmas season is a time of overindulgence and can prove a difficult time when it comes to losing weight and/or keeping their diet in check, which might in turn lead to a ‘health kick’ come January.
For those who don’t want to go overboard this Christmas and want to stay a step ahead of the game for when January comes around, some simple but effective food and drink swaps can help you to stay on track with your diet but save the flavour - and you won’t have to miss out on any of the Christmas festivities!
It’s never been easier to make healthier choices at Christmas. Of course, you can still enjoy some of your favourite Christmas foods (and we completely advocate this - Christmas is all about quality time and making special memories).
However, you’ll no longer need to eat every high fat, high sugar, high salt, high calorie treat on offer.
Most people will undoubtedly be indulging in a couple of tipples this Christmas. Alcohol contains 8 kcal per gram, so alcoholic drinks can be high in calories - a fact that is often forgotten, which can send our calorie intakes out of control if we do not stay mindful of what drinks we are consuming. Click here to read our article about alcohol
Ditching the booze and going alcohol free is ultimately the best way to reduce your calories. However, Christmas is a time where going alcohol free is not the option of choice for most. Below are some swaps that will help to reduce your calorie intake without compromising your Christmas experience.
Swap: Shop Bought Mulled Wine (210 kcal) for Homemade Mulled Wine (125 kcal)
Mulled wine is a go to for most at Christmas. However, the Mulled wine you buy at the supermarket bags a huge 210 calories per glass. By brewing your own mulled wine, you can swap out the sugar for an artificial or natural sweetener alternative (e.g. stevia) and save 65 calories. In our Jonple Homemade Mulled Wine Recipe we have opted for maple syrup to sweeten.
Swap: a large glass of wine (228 kcal) for a glass of Prosecco (86 kcal)
The bubbles from Prosecco mean that it tends to be drank more slowly than other alcoholic drinks. The standard serving size is also roughly half that of a large glass of wine totalling just 85 calories, saving you 142 calories.
Swap: a pint of lager (180 kcal) for a bottle of light beer (102 kcal)
Again, a bottle of beer is going to be a smaller portion size (approx 330ml) than a pint of beer (approx 473ml). Drinking from a bottle may also encourage you to drink less at a slower pace. You can even go that one step further and choose a lighter beer to save approx 78 calories, whilst still enjoying that beer taste.
Swap: a double gin and tonic (149 kcal) for a single gin and Slimline tonic (55 kcal)
The average single measure (25ml) of gin contains approx 60 calories.
So, by keeping your gin to just a single measure (even at home – buying a measure will help in keeping to this) and replacing the high sugar mixer tonic water with the sugar free slimline version, you can save upto 94 calories each time. The same can be done with any other of your favourite sugary mixers. Click here to visit the drinkaware website for alcohol calorie amounts
Many of the foods traditionally eaten at Christmas, particularly on Christmas day, contain high amounts of fat, especially saturated fat. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, so when eaten in large quantities can easily clock up your calorie intake. Click here to learn more about fat.
Below are some simple swaps to reduce your saturated fat and calorie intake, but still eat the traditional foods you would normally eat at Christmas.
Swap: a large portion (140g) dark turkey meat with skin (248kcal, 9.2g fat) for a large portion (140g) of light turkey meat without the skin (214 kcal, 2.8g fat)
Most of the fat in a turkey is located around the skin and the bones. So, by removing the skin from the turkey and opting for the light meat of the turkey breast instead of the wings or legs, you can reduce your consumption of fat by 6.4 grams and 34 calories per serving.
Swap one tablespoon of goose fat (404 kcal, 12g saturated fat) for one spray of Frylight cooking spray (1 kcal, 0g saturated fat)
When roasting potatoes and vegetables, avoid using goose fat - as it’s high in saturated fat and calories. Instead, use a Fry Light olive oil spray which contains minimal calories but still gives the potatoes the desired crispy outer layer.
Swap two tablespoons double cream (159 kcal, 17g fat) for two tablespoons light custard (56 kcal, 0.5g fat)
Again, cream is another ingredient that is high in saturated fat. By substituting the cream you have with your christmas pudding for a low fat custard made with skimmed milk, you can save 16.5g of fat and 103 calories per serving, and still enjoy the christmas pudding you know and love. And this is not just exclusive to Christmas pudding! This can be done with any of you puddingy favourites at Christmas!
There are limitless amounts of sweet treats on offer over Christmas, and that means a lot of added sugar. While sugar (carbohydrate) contains only 4 calories per gram, much less than alcohol or fat, with many foods on offer, added sugar may largely contribute to people's excessive calorie intake over the Christmas period. Below are some simple swaps to reduce your sugar and calorie intake without needing to compromise on the sweetness of your favourite festive sweet treats. Click here to learn more about sugar
Swap: standard mince pie (233 kcal, 21g sugar) for a mini mince pie (82 kcal, 7.7g sugar)
The standard mince pies you buy from the supermarket can easily clock up the calories as they usually contain upto 21g sugar. To put it into context, this equates to two thirds of the UK daily recommended intake! It is difficult to create a homemade version that is diet friendly, however, by simply opting instead for a mini mince pie you can reduce the amount of sugar and calories all the way down to a third of the original amounts - and you won’t need to go without!
Swap: 2 tbsp shop bought cranberry sauce (48 kcal, 12g sugar) for 2 tbsp homemade cranberry sauce (25 kcal, 3g sugar)
Shop-bought sauces can be high in added sugar, so if you are able to, make your own at home. Again, by making a homemade sauce you can save half of the calories by getting rid of the sugar additives and using the sweetness of the cranberries, or you could even enhance the sweetness with a granulated zero calorie sweetener.
Swap: 5 Quality Street Chocolates (222.5 kcal, 27.5g sugar) for 5 Squares 90% Dark Chocolate (111 kcal, 2.4g sugar)
Quality Streets are one of many chocolatey treats on offer, however contain a whopping 27.5g of sugar and 222.5 calories for just a small serving of 5 chocolates. It’s easy to see how the calories can add up! Instead, you could swap out the milk chocolate Quality Streets for the equivalent amount of 90% cocoa dark chocolate, which contains just half of the calories and only 2.4g of sugar, and you can still get the chocolatey taste. Dark chocolate also contains a lot more cocoa, which is a great source of antioxidants.
Swap: One mug (260g) hot drinking chocolate (238 kcal, 26g sugar) for one cup (170g) low calorie hot cocoa (134 kcal, 7g sugar)
Hot drinking chocolate is another Christmas favourite that comes with a lot of sugar. Instead, you can replace hot drinking chocolate with a high quality unsweetened cocoa powder and add zero calorie sweetener to cut the sugar and calories in half, and still enjoy the sweetness of a warm mug of hot cocoa on christmas morning.
The majority of the sodium (salt) we eat is not added to the food by us. In fact, the sodium we eat usually comes in abundance in the form of added salt in pre-packaged, processed foods, which are prevalent around Christmas time. Click here to learn more about sodium (salt)
Below are some simple swaps to eat less sodium (salt) this Christmas.
Swap a pinch of table salt (0.49g sodium) for a pinch of ground herbs and/or spices (0g sodium)
You can still enhance the flavour of your meats, potatoes and veg at your Christmas dinner by instead using herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or sage. If you want a kick of spice, you can add some chilli, cumin or paprika to turn things up a notch and get a lovely flavour to your meal, without the added sodium.
Swap original poultry stock cubes (0.99g sodium) for very low salt stock cubes (0.1g sodium)
Original shop bought stock is high in salt additives, whereas the low salt variation contains almost no sodium at all, and still provides the same poultry flavour. You can use lower sodium stock as an alternative in a soup starter for the christmas meal or for the gravy in the main event.
Swap a 30g serving of KP Original Salted peanuts (0.39g salt) for a 30g serving of unsalted nuts (0g salt)
KP Peanuts are high in salt, while unsalted nuts contain only trace amounts of sodium and have the bonus of being full of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin E.
All calorie and nutrient amounts sourced with: https://www.nutritics.com/app/#
Making just these minor changes to the foods and drinks you consume at Christmas can make a huge difference, not only only on Christmas day but also in the days leading up to and after Christmas, whilst still enjoying the festive period!