For many of us Christmas is all about enjoying the delicious festive fare with family and friends, but how do you do this at the same time as sticking to a heart-healthy diet?
Follow our suggestions below and you can have the best of both worlds. Looking after your heart health in this way also means you are less likely to pile on the pounds over the festive season.
Start the day with an oat-based breakfast
Having a good breakfast means you are less likely to pick at unhealthy snacks mid-morning or overeat at lunchtime. Overnight oats, porridge, or oat-based muesli are particularly good choices as oats can help to lower blood cholesterol.
Switch to rapeseed oil or olive oil for roasting and watch how much is used
Unsaturated fats such as rapeseed and olive oil are excellent for roasting your turkey and potatoes. Not only do they give beautifully crisp results, but they’re also heart-healthy, unlike the saturated fat in butter. As all fats are high in calories, still watch how much you use.
Make a tasty nut stuffing
Many stuffing recipes and ready-made stuffing options are high in saturated fat. Nut stuffing makes an equally delicious accompaniment to roast turkey but contains mainly heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Walnuts are well worth including in your stuffing as they have the added benefit of containing heart-healthy Omega 3 fats.
Be turkey savvy
Turkey is a lump of healthy, low-fat meat that is high in protein and B vitamins. However, to keep the fat in your Christmas dinner to a minimum, opt for white breast meat and avoid the skin.
If you are making gravy from the meat juices, first spoon off the fat and include vegetable cooking water for extra flavor and nutrients.
Keep a check on the roast potatoes
A Christmas lunch wouldn’t be the same without roast potatoes, but they tend to be high in fat so watch how many you eat. Replace some of those roast potatoes with boiled potatoes. You can cut down on your fat by roasting potatoes in larger chunks, as this reduces the amount of fat each potato absorbs.
Have a break from large meals with a bowl of soup
Having a bowl of soup is a great option when you need a break from big meals over Christmas. As long as you avoid creamy versions, they are normally low-calorie and at the same time, they are very satisfying and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Take an after-dinner walk
Exercise is important for heart health and getting outside for a walk in the fresh air after a large Christmas meal will aid digestion and help you feel energized rather than sluggish. It is definitely worth planning into your Christmas Day agenda.
Indulge in fruit-based puddings
Incorporating fruit-based puddings into your Christmas feast will bump up your fiber intake so you are less likely to get blood sugars highs and lows.
Including tinned or frozen fruit such as raspberries or satsuma segments is a practical option as you can stock up on in the run-up to Christmas. It’s also a good idea to have a fresh fruit salad in the fridge over Christmas as a light dessert option following a big meal.
Practice mindful eating to get maximum satisfaction from every mouthful
Christmas is typically a time to overindulge however did you know we get the most enjoyment from the initial mouthfuls of a dish and less satisfaction as we continue to eat?
Therefore, opt for small portions over the Christmas period and really savor the lovely flavors and aromas of your dish. You can always go back for more.
Eating slowly and mindfully will help to avoid overeating as it takes time for the message to get to your brain that your stomach is full.