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Mince Pies

21 Easy Ways to Beat the Christmas Bloat

By Dietitian Juliette Kellow BSc RD

It’s only once a year, but . . .

Pounds put on over Christmas are every bit as stubborn as the ones it took years to accumulate. So, if you’re thinking a bit of damage limitation is in order, here’s our tummy protection tips.

1. Don’t overeat out of politeness

We all know the feeling, we’ve really had enough but the kind feeders amongst our family and friends are determined to make sure we’re as stuffed as the turkey – it is Christmas after all!

The answer is to plan ahead. You need to figure out a good way of saying no more thank you - before you go visiting.

2. Eat before you party

This may sound a little counter-intuitive but the worst thing you can do is starve yourself before a Christmas Do.

If you’re ravenous before the buffet comes out, you’ll find it really hard to resist piling lots of innocent looking bits and pieces on your plate. (And going back for seconds after you’ve wolfed it down.)

3. Don't stock up too early

Don't be tempted to stock up on too many festive foods in early December - the potential for eating them before Christmas is huge. This is double jeopardy, because you'll have to eat them all again when you buy more for Christmas.

4. . . . Or too much

There's a good chance you'll be left with loads of goodies - and you know there's only one good way to get rid of them. Mince pie on the 14th Jan anyone?

5. Make your own dips

 

Use low fat cream, or creme fraiche to make your own low calorie dips. Try out cucumber, celery, sweet pepper and carrot crudites to dip instead of nachos. (They look pretty and everyone will feel saintly for eating them.) 

6. Secret low fat versions

 

Buy low-fat versions of favourite nibbles, such as crisps and dips. No one will ever know the difference. If you want to appear unconcerned just chuck the packets in the recycling before your guests arrive.  

7. Step away from the sweets

And maybe the nuts.

Not sitting right next to the bowl of nibbles may seem a little obvious, but it's often not until you're starting to feel slightly queasy that you notice the growing pile of colourful foil at your elbow. 

8. Make your own . . .

 

Have a go at making your own mince pies using filo pastry instead of shortcrust, puff or flaky.

It's lower in calories and fat than the other varieties - plus you'll use less of it. Or make mince tarts instead of pies.

Leaving off the pastry lid will save around 40 calories.Check out the chart below.

Pastry per 100g (uncooked) Calories Fat g
Filo 304 2.7
Puff 401 25.6
Flaky 424 30.7
Shortcrust 453 29.1

9. . . . Or be a savvy shopper

If you don't fancy making your own, check out our roundup of the highest and lowest calories in mince pies and other Christmas sweet treats.  

10. Cheat with your mincemeat

Slash the fat content of ready-made mincemeat by mixing it with a little stewed apple before using it to fill the pastry cases. It tastes good, too.  

11. Mini puds

Look out for lower fat versions of your favourite foods such as Christmas pudding and mince pies.

Alternatively, simply downsize. Many supermarkets now sell mini mince pies that contain just 100-150 calories each, rather than the usual 200-250 calories each.

Okay, they're gone in just a few mouthfuls, but at least you won't have missed out.  

12. Be careful with your leftovers

Don't use leftovers to create fatty, high-calorie meals such as bubble and squeak and coronation turkey.

Instead, make delicious low-calorie meals such as turkey soup, turkey curry with brown rice or simply serve with a jacket potato and salad.  

13. Go cold turkey

 

When it comes to the notorious turkey sandwich you're on to a winner. Make it even more saintly by using wholegrain bread spread with a little cranberry sauce rather than butter, choose breast rather than dark meat and pile on the salad.  

14. Low calorie recipes

 

If you like to make your own sweet treats such as Christmas cake, Yule log or trifle, look on the Internet or in books for lower-calorie recipes.

Often it's as simple as replacing regular ingredients for lower-calorie versions. For example, for a low-fat trifle use reduced-sugar jam on the sponge cakes, sugar-free jelly, fruit canned in juice rather than syrup, make the custard using skimmed milk and decorate with low-fat aerosol cream.  

15. Grab an orange

 

For a low-calorie seasonal snack, choose a satsuma or tangerine rather than a slice of Christmas cake or mince pie.

Both these fruits are packed with vitamin C, are virtually fat free and contain just 20 calories each.  

16. Get cracking

Alternatively, buy nuts in their shells such as walnuts, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts. You'll be less likely to overindulge if you have to use a nutcracker every time you want to overindulge.  

17. Get fruity

Put out bowls of festive dried fruits - most supermarkets sell selection boxes that include raisins, sultanas and dried cranberries.

But remember, dried fruit might be virtually fat free but it's still quite high in calories - 100g of raisins contains 272 calories. Dates are great because you can keep an eye on the pile of stones to make sure you don't scoff too many.

18. Get rid of the icing

 

If you can't resist a piece of Christmas cake, remove the icing and marzipan and just enjoy the fruit cake. You'll save 60 calories and 1.5g fat.  

19. Bring out the breadsticks

Swap crisps, savoury snacks and peanuts for breadsticks - they're more satisfying and much lower in calories and fat.

For variety, choose those flavoured with herbs, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Most breadsticks contain around 20-25 calories each whereas a handful of crisps provides 40 calories and a handful of peanuts contains a staggering 300 calories!  

20. Nibble a pickle

 

If you don't fancy breadsticks, replace crisps and nuts with bowls of pickled onions, gherkins and olives.

They're virtually calorie free - except the olives. Get olives in brine rather than oil to keep the calorie count down.  

21. Watch your sweet choices

 

Pick your sweets carefully. Large tins of chocolates may be a fixture in most people's houses at Christmas but they're guaranteed to leave you with a spare tyre.

A 2kg tin of Roses, for example, contains just under 10,000 calories. That's enough to gain 3lb!

Instead, opt for sweets with a low fat content such as fruit pastilles, Haribo and other jelly and foam sweets, jelly beans and boiled sweets. That said, not sitting right next to the sweets is still valid.

Take a look at the chart below. 

Sweets per 100g Calories Fat g
Fruit gums 172 0
Fruit pastilles 253 0
Real Turkish delight 295 0
Marshmallows 327 0
Boiled sweets 327 0
Jelly beans 365 0.2
Peppermints 392 0.7
Toffees 430 17.2
Assorted filled chocolates 460 18.8

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